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6 Tips for planning meals

We all lead busy lives and finding time to eat healthily can be a challenge for all of us. Parents say that planning really helps them make sure they can pull together healthy meals, no matter how busy things get. These tips will help:

1. Pick a time during the week and make this a time when you plan your weekly meals

  • Once you get into this habit you will get quicker at planning – it may take you 30 mins the first couple of times. It will also save you time in the supermarket.
  • Think about how many meals you need to plan and what foods you would like to eat. For example if you have a busy schedule think about meals that can be made quickly and/or prepared in advance.

2. Look at the ingredients you already have at home

  • Look to see what you already have in your cupboard, fridge or freezer. This may help to give you some recipe inspiration.  For example if you have eggs you could make an omelette or a stir-fry to use up vegetables.

3. Pick meals that you know your family already enjoy

  • Make a go-to list of recipes that your family loves and alternate between these.
  • Introduce new recipes. We have lots of healthy recipes that the whole family will love. If these new recipes are a hit, you can add them to your favourites list.
  • Get the kids involved and ask them what they would like to see on the menu. Kids are more likely to eat meals that they have helped to plan.
  • If you’re struggling to think of new ideas why not introduce a themed night, for example Mexican Monday, Italian Tuesday, Fishy Fridays or Something New Saturday.

4. Plan for leftovers

  • Chose meals such as pasta bake, soup, shepherd’s pie, curry, lasagne or beef stew, which can be refrigerated and heated up or eaten cold for lunch the next day.
  • Leftover vegetables could be added to an omelette. Leftover meat could be added to a curry.
  • Leftovers stored in the fridge must be used within three days.

5. Cook in bulk

  • Cook extra and freeze the leftovers. Pies, curries, stews and casseroles all freeze well.
  • If you are using the oven, think about what else you can cook at the same time. If you are doing a casserole, you could cook some chicken breasts to go in sandwiches over the next couple of days.

6. Chose recipes that use the same ingredients

  • Chose 2-3 main vegetables for the week and introduce variety by adding them to a chicken/meat, pasta or fish dish. Selecting recipes with similar ingredients will help to reduce the amount of food that you need to buy.
  • For example peppers, broccoli and sweetcorn can be added to a beef stir-fry but can also be used to make a vegetable pasta bake or served with meat or fish.

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© The Food Safety Promotion Board