When it comes to planning meals, most of us have some idea what we will be eating in the coming week, with only 20% of us usually deciding on the day1. Join in and get organised - planning our meals and shopping is a great way to save money and often save time as well.
However, we all know that even the best laid plans do not always work out. Many of us lead busy lives and our plans can often change at the last minute, as can the number of people who will be in for meal which can lead to food being wasted. Welsh homes still throw away the equivalent of 6 meals every week costing the nation £610 million a year.
Love Food Hate Waste can help us get organised with all sorts of ideas, hints and tips to suit our lifestyle, whether you are an avid meal planner, you need a more flexible approach because your plans keep changing, or you prefer to be more spontaneous and take advantage of whatever is on special offer.
Too busy not to plan?
Planning doesn’t have to be laborious or time consuming- in fact it can save us time when shopping. Just a quick check in the cupboards, a rummage in the fridge, then making a quick list before shopping means that we are less likely to spend time wandering around the shops wondering what to have for tea. If you need ideas to get you started have a look at the ready-made meal plans and shopping lists on the website or download our free app that will help generate shopping lists for the meals that you want.
A quick check in the fridge on a regular basis helps us spot those foods coming up to their use-by dates so we can then plan when to use them.
Mind the Gap
Even when we are organised in the kitchen, all sorts of things crop up and our plans change. We work late, grab a takeaway, eat out, or just don’t fancy what we had planned. If that’s the case, why not plan some gaps into your weekly meal plan to leave some wriggle room? For example, planning for five days’ meals a week allows for those changing plans. If you do happen to be at home, it’s a great opportunity to use meals from the freezer, or use leftover or forgotten foods to make a meal.
Using meals from the freezer as a regular part of our plans prevents our freezers becoming overstocked with food that we then forget is in there. It also means that we use our frozen food whilst its quality is high. Keeping a handy list stuck on the freezer door avoids having to search through our frozen foods to try and work out what we have in stock. Keep an eye on foods in your fridge that are coming up to their use-by date and move them into the freezer if you are not going to use them in time.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
It’s hard to plan when we don’t know how many we are planning for. However, a quick weekly meal plan can help establish who is likely to be at home for meals. If numbers do change at the last minute here are some top tips to help you make the most of your food
If you haven’t started cooking, check your portions. It’s easy to get into the habit of cooking for a certain number regardless of who is going to be in. Take a quick look at our portion planner for easy tips on how to get portions right.
If you end up with leftovers, see them as a perfect opportunity to save time and money. Even just one portion of food is perfect for freezing to use as a ready meal for one at another time. A serving of stew, a piece of pie or portion of pud used the next day for lunch saves all the bother of making sandwiches or the expense of buying your own.
Well wrapped leftovers are fine in the fridge for 2 days (except rice which needs to be used within 24 hours) and remember that food can be safely frozen right up to the use-by date.
Bagging a Bargain
If you are more spontaneous in your food shopping, need to shop on a daily basis or like to make the best use of daily bargains, our website can suggest all sorts of recipes, hints and tips for those special offers or multi buys. You can search for recipes that use a particular food and you can even download our app to take with you. However you like to shop and cook you will find lots of ideas to make the most out of the food you buy.
If you have a tip, recipe or idea for getting organised do tell us on our Twitter, Facebook or ‘contact us’ page on the website and we’ll happily feature it on the website.
1 WRAP Survey November 2013