Meal Planning Ideas – How to Plan Meals Economically

Meal planning ideas economically is a headache for everyone but the main requirement is to know your individual budget. If you can afford smoked salmon and steak for every meal, then this probably doesn’t apply to you but if you’re running a household budget, then every penny counts.

The enemy of economical meal planning is WASTE. All over the world, approximately 1.3 billion tons of food is thrown away; that amounts to an average of 100kg of waste per person in the developed countries.

The rise of the “sell by date” and the “best before date” is partly to blame but we should use common sense. For example, I know that I can keep an unopened yogurt in my fridge for at least 3 months but the “use by” date is about 2 weeks after purchase. In other words if it hasn’t gone green and smells as it should then it’s probably ok to eat. If you’re not happy with this idea then you need to be even more aware of your household waste.

Weekend Family Meals

Many households like to have more special meals at weekends (or for shift workers, perhaps two other days of the week) which often involve quantities of meat, fish or seafood and vegetables.

Before you buy check what’s in your freezer; you may have some prawns or a joint of meat which could do with using up.

When you buy, either buy just enough or be aware of how you can use up the rest. Often, it’s more economical to buy a large joint of meat so if it’s much too big for your family, get your butcher to cut (or saw) it into two or three pieces and freeze what you don’t need.

You can also freeze leftover portions of casserole, chilli, bolognaise and other sauces.

Weeknight Suppers

Make a plan for your weeknight suppers but first check the fridge to see what needs using. Often you’ll find bits of salad (which doesn’t keep that well) so why not have cold meat from your weekend roast with some fresh or reheated roast potatoes or mashed potato and that salad.

Make leftover veg into tasty and nutritious soup which will make at least one supper so all you need is some crusty bread.

Alternatively, you can make cheese sauce and pour it over your reheated, leftover veg, top with breadcrumbs and more cheese and grill or put in the oven to crisp up. Serve with cold meat, crispy bacon or just on its own.

You may find ham, cheese, mushrooms, pepper, a pot of sweetcorn or half a can of tuna; they all make great additions to pasta (maybe not all at once) and you can easily make a sauce with cream cheese, ricotta or crème fraîche.
You can add mushrooms and peppers to bolognaise sauce and most other veg will go in a casserole.

Catering for Friends

The thing to remember when cooking for friends is that they come to see you and probably don’t much care what you give them to eat so unless it’s a special occasion, you don’t need to break the bank.

Choose dishes that you can make in advance or that take very little last minute attention so that you can spend time chatting over a drink not slaving in the kitchen.

Salads make a great starter that you can either put on a big help yourself platter or plate up and leave in the fridge. Try nectarine or mango on a bed of rocket with Serrano ham draped over and sprinkled with toasted almonds or pine nuts.

For main, go for a one pot roast or casserole which incorporates vegetables and that you can just leave in the oven or slow cooker and serve with rice, pasta or mashed potato.

Follow these tips on how to plan meals economically and never throw food in the bin if you can possibly avoid it.


There are currently 0 items in your cart.
View Cart