Menu Planning: How to plan your meals and lose weight

I’m sure I am not alone in saying that one of the most frustrating questions you can be asked is ‘what is for dinner?’ when you haven’t even downed your first mouthful of breakfast! Now I am not pointing any fingers (husband!) but there comes a time where intervention is needed (and unfortunately saying something witty like ‘I don’t mind as long as I’m not cooking’ wasn’t getting me anywhere).

Now previously I would look through the fridge and freezer and message my husband a meal that we could put together with what we had available. Try to be resourceful. But we ended up having the same few meals (or close variations of) week after week… Tacos, spaghetti bolognaise, chicken curry, steak and salad. Not to bag any of these meals – they are delicious, quick and easy meals but having them week after week, we started to lose our love of food.

So therein rose the weekly event of menu planning. Now before you all switch off and say ‘boring, boring, boring’, I want to provide some tips to making this a fun, interesting and enjoyable task. Plus, I will also discuss all the positive reasons to give this a really good go!

Step 1: Go to Kmart and buy a weekly menu planner (and try not to leave with half the store)

Step 2: Choose a time when you will not be interrupted by your husband, children or anyone else.

Step 3: Choose 2 cook books for that week (or for those that are not so old school like me, your phone for Pinterest, Instagram or Taste.com).

Step 4: Choose a favourite beverage – I’m sure your choice will be dictated by the time of day!!

Step 5: Put on some music, a podcast, Netflix or other entertainment of your choice.

Step 6: On your menu planner, allocate a protein per day e.g. Monday – chicken, Tuesday – vegetarian etc

Step 8: Find a meal for each day of the week and write a shopping list based on these recipes.

Step 9: Go shopping!

And it’s as simple as that. Also, keep each weekly menu planner that you write out with the shopping list as you will be able to recycle these every few weeks/months, particularly if you haven’t had time to do one up.

Tip 1: Choosing a different protein for each night helps to ensure variety and balance in your diet i.e. achieving a healthy mix of white meat, red meat, fish and vegetarian options.

Tip 2: Choose meals that you are likely going to have most of the ingredients in the house already or will use again (i.e. it may be easier not to try a recipe that requires 20 different herbs and spices, particularly on a week night when you are already swamped for time and headspace).

Tip 3: Choosing recipes that will cook well in bulk is a great time saver as you will have leftovers for lunch the next day or to stow away in the freezer for a night when you need a quick meal.

Pros to menu planning:

  1. You don’t have to answer that ever so frustrating question again – simply say, look at the menu!
  2. You don’t have to think about what to cook each day – your mind was already made up on the weekend.
  3. Grocery shopping is so much easier & faster – create the shopping list from the menu and stick to it.
  4. You will save a lot of money on groceries as you won’t be buying foods because they look good or they are on special and then end up throwing them in the bin because you didn’t use them.
  5. You will increase your variety in food – important for nutrition and food enjoyment.
  6. If you plan to cook in bulk, you will also have your lunch meals sorted as well.
  7. You will decrease your intake of takeaway and unhealthy convenience/pre-packaged foods.
  8. No more stopping at the supermarket every day to pick up ingredients for dinner.
  9. It is much easier to get some help with the cooking if you can direct your husband to the menu planner and recipe!