Mount Isa meal planning tips

Meal planning doesn’t have to be a boring chore. All you need to do is set aside some time to do it, and then you can enjoy all the benefits for the rest of the week (or even longer). Once you start, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

Tip #1: Don’t ask, ‘what’s for dinner tonight?’

Instead, ask ‘what’s for dinner this week?’. Proper meal planning is about preparing for a week (or even longer), not just preparing for your next meal. It all starts with a weekly list of meals for lunch and dinner, and then working out what ingredients you need.

Try and keep things simple to start with by sticking with your favourite meals rather than experimenting with new ones. You should also try and pick meals that you can cook in bulk and then freeze so you can eat them whenever you want. Casseroles and lasagna are great examples. If you do cook in large batches, store them in meal-sized portions so you only defrost what you need to eat.

Avoid choosing meals that have special ingredients unless you plan on having them regularly. Otherwise, you’ll end up wasting or not using all the ingredients. You should also look for seasonal recipes because their ingredients will usually be cheaper.

Tip #2: Check your fridge and pantry

You need to find out what you already have before you go shopping, so you avoid buying anything that you don’t need and won’t use. Prepare a list of what you don’t have for your weekly meal plan and then stick to that list when you go shopping so that you save money and avoid waste.

Tip #3: Go shopping

Take advantage of any specials that are on offer for items on your list, but make sure you avoid the ones that aren’t. Don’t impulse buy, because it will usually derail your meal plan and its benefits.

Buy frozen vegetables and smaller quantities of fresh vegetables on your list so you minimise waste. Frozen vegetables have nearly the same nutrients and they won’t go off like fresh ones will.

If you’re buying perishables like meat or seafood, make sure you have those meals earlier in the week before they go off.

Tip #4: Prep and cook in bulk

Once you have all your ingredients, prep your meals by cleaning and chopping all your vegetables in advance, and then cook as many meals as possible for the week before freezing them.

You should also keep any unused ingredients organised in your pantry or fridge for easy access.

Tip #5: Use leftovers for lunch the next day

It will not only save you money and time, but some meals taste even better the next day, especially those where all the juices take time to fully flow through. Whatever you do, don’t waste your leftovers.

Tip #6: Treat yourself to a regular restaurant meal (or pizza night)

Use the money you save from your Mt Isa meal planning to treat yourself to a regular meal at your favourite restaurants with friends or family. Or you could get your favourite pizza or other takeaway meal to have at home instead. Either way, it will add variety to your routine.

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