Meal Planning Options
Simplicious Flow, Nigella Express, Your Dinner Is Planned, The Green Grocers Diet…oh my! There’s so SO much I love about food and cookery books. I’m crazy about the way I use cookery books as a source of reading pleasure as well as practical solutions to that ominous question every night, “what’s for dinner?
My one true passion in life, is baking, as inherited watching my mum make profiteroles and custard creme, a Vietnamese sweet tradition.
Nowadays flicking through my cook book collection, for me, is a self pleasing escape I enjoy when I go down the #whatcanwebake rabbit hole with my kids. [Quietly encouraging them to request something I WANT to satisfy my sweet tooth without taking all the blame for the 9000 calories about to be greedily devoured!]
Honestly, there are days though when getting dinner ready makes me want to lay down and start sobbing. In those moments of #NotHappyJan the Your Dinner Is Planned weekly dinner plan is like a warm hug! When I consider how difficult it is to start meal planning on a budget in between 3pm when I collect the kids from school and 5.30pm when everyone starts raiding the pantry and eating bananas, opening the app is a no brainer!
There’s nothing like a hungry child to give you that boost you need to get dinner planned pronto.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN MEAL PLANNING
When meal planning on a budget I like to stick to a shopping list directly matched to recipes. It sounds so obvious, but this is the reason I was wasting money and food every week. The items in my shopping cart didn’t belong to any one meal. I think we can all admit to being guilty of a green slush forming in our crisper drawers, the main offender being spinach in my house.
I also buy the bulk of food on a per kilo price. Pre packaged and pre perpared foods can be up to $45 per kilo in price such as museli bars and snacks. One quick snack that won’t break the bank is hummus and carrot sticks.
- 1 tin chick peas
- 1 tbs peanut butter
- Juice half lemon
- Olive oil to reach desired consistency
I throw them all together into the processor and there you have a quick snack!
I also need a few fall back recipes when my kids are super hungry and need something fast. This involves Miso paste, which can seem quick expensive but a little goes a long way. For those times I give them my version of 2 minute noodles
- packet udon noodles
- 1 litre water
- 1 tbsp Japanese miso paste
- 1 beef stock cube
- Dash of sesame oil
Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes.
Allow to cool slightly before serving.
HOW TO MEAL PLAN ON A BUDGET
Before I discovered Your Dinner Is Planned, I’d tried tagging recipes in books with post it notes and photographing ingredient lists and just winging a $250 grocery shop and hoping it somehow equated to 5 diners and 5 school lunches….
Most days I was so un-organised I’d buy my lunch at $14 per day on average and instead of having healthy after school snacks ready, I’d take the kids to sushi. It wasn’t until I audited my own food spending I realised with shock I’d been spending on average $80 per week on sushi. What with the mayonnaise options I was choosing, wasn’t really all that healthy in the end. On top of that I’d end up visiting the supermarket for dinner supplies sometimes 3 times a week. The time spent wandering the aisles waiting for divine inspiration was eating away at my ME time.
My go to shopping quick fix for school lunch supplies is
- Pocket bread
My favourite budget friendly meals
Nigella Express p. 11 Pork Mustard Chops
The Greengrocers Diet p.34 Toasted museli (since reading this book, I’ve been a fan of the green breakfast smoothie and home made toasted museli.)
Your Dinner Is Planned chicken cordon bleu (week 9) with chicken caesar salad and homemade croutons (week 22)
Simplicious Flow a week of Thai-somely nutritous lunches for $31.36 p 292
Entertaining that doesn’t break the bank
This year we had a little soiree on Christmas eve and Christmas Day at our place. There was so much I wanted to cook for all our friends and family…I settled on these crowds favourites
Your Dinner Is Planned – Hawaiian Chicken kabobs
Nigella Christmas – Spoonbread p84 and bourbon glazed ribs p82 Prodigious Pavlova p45
By chance I stumbled upon Jazzy, the founder of Your Dinner Is Planned, while attending a software training class. She was involved in a demonstration I was watching online. Afterwards I visited her website. It sounded too good to be true. The answers to all my end of day hunger woes. I hung on her every word and then within moments I was a happy customer of Your Dinner Is Planned … YAY I became hooked.
Instead of hoping my shopping trolley of randomness would create a meal I was able to trust Jazzy had the plan sorted and I’d flip open the YDIP app shopping list as I grabbed my shopping trolley.
Yes I could now smugly present a meal on the table that included multiple fresh herbs and vegetables and exotic (to me) ingredients occasionally, such as our newfound favourite sauce “chipotle sauce”.
Being an Australian I’d never come across this sauce before, a magically smoky spicy flavoured Mexican delight. To my astonishment the local supermarket stocked it! #winning Jim now has one bottle for his desk at work and I maintain my stash in our frig at home.
I’m def no expert when it comes to nutrition so I asked my friend Peter to contribute:
“Hi I’m Peter Fitzgerald from BodyChoice Fitness and the creator of the My Body Self Care 4 week healthy lifestyle program.
As a health and movement coach working with thousands of clients across the globe common feedback I get is about lack of time to cook meals and in particular the inability to plan healthy meals to get the results my clients desire. This led me to design a program which includes meal plans, shopping lists and tips which include simple, healthy meals that burn fat.
Today’s meal tip comes from just that – ‘What to Cook When There’s Nothing in the House to Eat’? Often we have core ingredients in the cupboard or fridge but after a long day at work you are not inspired to create, right!
So today’s meal tip is – Let’s make Breakfast for Dinner.
One simple hack for those wanting to be efficient and pull together a simple meal is to prepare breakfast for dinner. One of our communities favourite breakkie item is the egg as it’s a versatile ingredient and is very good for the body.
Something we often eat in our house is pancakes. The recipe we use is simply 1 banana and two eggs blended for 1 serve. We add a teaspoon of psyllium husk which is a natural thickener and adds texture. It’s proven to reduce constipation and studies have shown when consumed with meals it increases fullness and reduces appetite sensation, resulting in weight loss.
My wife likes to flavor the pancakes with a tablespoon of chocolate protein powder to turn them in to dessert pancakes. She adds some beautiful stewed stone fruit or fresh, sliced strawberries and banana and whalaa! Or if you’d prefer, eat them as a savoury meal with some stirfried vegetables, some steamed greens or with some delicious fresh fish.
Another favourite breakkie for dinner meal is smashed avocado with a poached egg on wholemeal bread with tomatoes, mushroom and bok choy sprinkled with Himalayan rock salt and a squeeze of lemon. Sour dough bread is a healthier option and I’d suggest using coconut oil to cook with. Coconut oil is high in healthy saturated fats that have greater effects than most other oils in our eating plans. These fats can boost fat burning and provide your body and brain with quick energy. They also raise the good HDL cholesterol in your blood, which is linked to reduced heart disease risk.
Why Eggs? The real benefits of the egg is the protein as it is an essential part of any eating plan. Today’s society consumes too many carbohydrates and fats and not enough proteins. This has led to an increase in unwanted body fat and related health problems.
Protein is essential for healthy cell production, organ health, hair, skin and nails (not just muscles). Protein also helps to make you feel fuller. It also helps to regulate the blood sugar fluctuations that people get from eating too many refined carbohydrates.
Consequently, it’s very beneficial for diabetics and anyone experiencing low energy, mood swings and depression. This is especially important for helping children with behavioural disorders. Blood sugar fluctuations are a major contributing factor to their mood swings.
Thanks for your time. Here is a simple dish from the My Body Self Care program that everyone in the family will enjoy and can be done in only 20 minutes.
|Breakfast – BAKED BACON & EGGS|
|1 ½ rashers||Bacon – chopped finely|
|1/3||Capsicum – finely chopped|
|3||Button mushrooms or 2 medium mushrooms – chopped finely|
|1 stick||Spring onion|
|1 tbsp (15 ml)||Olive oil|
|1 tbsp (15 ml)||Tasty cheese – grated|
|1 tbsp (15 ml)||Parsley|
Preheat oven to 190C. Lightly oil 1 cup (250 ml) oven proof dish. Heat oil in a fry pan and stir fry capsicum and bacon for approx. 1 minute. Add mushrooms and onion, stirring until onion softens. Remove from heat and combine ½ cheese.
Place mixture into oven dish; carefully breaks eggs on top of mixture. Place in oven and bake for 5 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cheese over eggs and bake for about 5 mins. If you like your eggs runny take out when white is set. Serve with a sprinkle of parsley, salt and pepper to taste.
Remember it’s Your Body. One Life. Your Choice.
The wrap up
Your Dinner Is Planned makes life so much easier! Seriously, Jim and I love the variety and each night he asks, who’s this one? It’s a sort of game we have now at dinner, the answer is usually a Jazzy special or a Nigella classic. And should the nights’ dinner prep leave me less than inspired, I pass my iPhone to Jim to follow Jazzys directions. More than anything, Your Dinner Is Planned is forcing me to eat and serve more vegetables and less processed sugar filled foods to my family. Something I’m especially happy about.
Now by filling our tummies with more raw foods and nutritious meals, my health and strength and alertness during the day is perking right up!
My friend, and fellow mumpreneur, Suzanne Duncan Published author gave me a fab tip… “my approach to meal preparation is to plan on a Sunday for the following week and then cycle through the exact plan again the following week. Plan eat repeat and include left overs that can be used for lunches or for extra food for very hungry teenagers!!”
What about you? When it comes to meal planning, what are your favorite ways to stay on top of it all?
Leave a comment below!!
Important note: Please seek specific dietary advice from your health care professional before applying these recommendations. This blog post contains affiliate links which means I may earn a referral fee if you purchase through one of my links, without any extra cost to you. It helps keep this blog afloat so we can deliver more value to you every week. Feel secure knowing I only endorse quality retailers I have investigated myself and believe would bring value to others xx Kim