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Articles > The Pantry & Cooking > Meal Planning And Shopping

Meal Planning And Shopping

Published by admin on 18-Feb-2018 18:20 (3837 reads)


Simple living means taking the stress out of your life, getting back to basics and saving money. Meal Planning is one of those skills that needs to be practiced. At first it may seem like a major chore and impossible to get right. As you continue you find that it becomes less chore like and more creative. Think of it as a challenge.

Meal Planning helps you save money and time. Your shopping list will be written from your plan and if you stick to it then you will find that you will be less likely to shop on impulse, because that is where your budget will become unstuck. By sticking to your list and budget you will save a lot of time because you won't be tempted to walk around the shop hoping for inspiration and being seduced by items that you didn't need.

How to start meal planning for beginners...

A beginner meal planner will usually start with a one week plan.

Start with Dinners first.

Look at your diary and see which days are busier than others and plan for a simple meal on those days.

Write down 5 dinners that your family enjoys eating. eg Pasta, seafood, slow cooked casserole, roast lamb, tuna patties.

You will notice that there are 2 days not accounted for. These are for a left overs meal, or else a very simple meal such as soup and toasted sandwich or it may be for a take away meal.

Write down the ingredients needed for each meal.

Check your cupboard and fridge to see if any of the ingredients are already there, if not, then put them on your shopping list.
Next write down what you need for breakfasts and lunches.
Write your plan for these and put any ingredients you may need on your shopping list.
Also add staple items to your list such as milk, butter, coffee, tea, salt, etc.

Okay so now your first weeks meal plan is complete and your shopping list is ready.


You now have your shopping list, but before you go down to buy everything on the list have a look online and see which shops have specials that include things on your list. Or look at the specials catalogues that are distributed around town.

Remember if you aren't growing your own fruit and vegetables then please try to buy them from a farmers market or a local green grocer or do some bartering with a friend who grows them. This way you will be buying better quality and supporting the local community.

The last thing to remember before you go shopping is never go when you are hungry. If you are hungry you will be tempted to buy food that isn't on your list. And please remember to take to your shopping bags so you don't end up with the plastic ones at the checkout.

At the supermarket, ONLY buy what is on your list. Don't be tempted to buy anything else.

Once you have been doing all of the above and feel comfortable with what you are doing then you are ready for the next step. And that is planning for 2 weeks instead of one. You will find that you will save money by shopping less often and the aim is to get to a monthly shop, which may sound impossible, but it is a challenge and if you can accomplish it then you will a sense of achievement and you will have more money left in your budget.

Things to remember when Meal Planning:

Cooking from scratch is healthier and cheaper.

Make sure you take into account each family members preferences so that they can be catered for.

Try out a new recipe at least once a month.

Remember to factor in extra portions incase of unexpected visitors.

Freeze any leftovers or have them for lunch the next day.

Learn ways to use leftovers that is creative and not wasteful.

Plan some time to do some preparation work.

For example
Rinse, peel, chop and store vegetables ready to cook. (store in containers in the fridge)
Make a cake or other snacks that can be used during the week.
Make some ice cream, yoghurt and muesli ready for the week.
Make some healthy drinks ie Shrubs, Probiotic Lemonade etc.
Make some Kim Chi.
Make and Bottle some Pasta Sauce.
Dehydrate some vegetables, fruit or herbs.
Make a couple of loaves of bread, slice and freeze.

Meal Planning, Shopping and Storing Food Master Class

Once you have mastered the challenge of Meal Planning and Shopping at least for a two week period, you will be ready to start organising your Pantry. Do you have enough stored food to last a couple of months. I call this Prepping for Hard Times.

Let's imagine that for some reason, you are unable to go to the shops. Maybe your income has disappeared or been cut dramatically because of a job loss, sickness or injury, or there is a flood and you are land locked or there is an economic collapse. Do you have enough food in your pantry that would last your family in case of these hard times?

First look at your pantry. Is there enough staples such as rice, flour,
sugar, salt and other herbs and spices, canned and bottled food, dried food, milk, eggs, oils, sauces etc ?? How long would the amount of food you have there last your family? If it wouldn't get you by for at least a month, then you need to start adding to it.

Building up your pantry does not have to be done in one week, it will take quite a while when you are living within your budget. The sooner you start the process the better.

The easiest way to start is to buy when you see the needed items on special.

For example Coconut Oil is on special so you buy 2. Or Sugar is on special so you buy 2. You will need to allocate a portion of your income into your food budget so that you can do this.

Once you have a pantry that would feed your family for a month, remember to keep an eye on the use by dates and also keep a look out for anything that looks amiss, like weevils in the flour.

Rotate your stock by using the one you bought first and then replacing it next shopping day.

Stored food should be somewhere in the house that is free of sunlight and as cool as possible.

Storing dried food is best in vacuum packs.

Keep a look out for any issues such as broken packets or bottles, mice or ants and deal with them immediately.

Keep the shelves neat and clean.

Make sure you can see what you have available and it isn't hidden from you.

Other items to keep a stock of include:

Pet Food
Toilet Paper
Bi Carbonate Soda
Fly Spray

Having a well stocked pantry is like having money in the bank or an insurance policy. It will also give you comfort to know that you could feed your family if hard times hit. A well stocked pantry is one of the major Simple Living exercises you need to keep on top of. It becomes fun and challenging and once you get the hang of it you will find you will feel wealthy.

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