Monthly Archives:

March 2018

How To Cook For The Week: Batch Cooking For Beginners

It can be incredibly frustrating after a busy day at work to get home and realise you haven’t got anything ready for tea.

The temptation is to throw some fish fingers on a baking sheet and serve with some frozen chips.  The kids will probably love it. However, no one else in the house will thank you!

The other option when you’re in a hurry is a shop bought ready meal, which generally comes in a super small portion size, leaving you and your family unsatisfied and nutritionally defunct!

Wouldn’t it be great to have on hand some healthy home cooked meals ready to defrost and stick in the oven or microwave when life has thrown you a dodgeball?

We’ve got some fantastic tips in our batch cooking for beginners guide, to help you start on your journey to batch cooking and freezer cooking meals. We’ve made the steps simple to follow, and you’ll find that most of them are something you are already doing most days, you may just need to tweak your cooking skills to help you to freeze larger portions of the healthy meals you’re already cooking for your family.

In this post, you will learn how to batch cook and freeze your weekly meals and how to make a batch cooking meal plan. We will talk you through batch cooking for families and some healthy meal ideas. and you can download our monthly meal planner if you wanted to try monthly batch cooking!

So, without further ado lets ditch the oven chips and learn how to prepare some easy freezer meals for the whole family, let’s start batch cooking for beginners!

Before you begin batch cooking you will need

  1. Large pans 
  2. Large bowls
  3. Slow cooker (optional) to free up some time 
  4. Freezer labels and sharpie
  5. Food processor (optional) for chopping large portions of onions and for grating.
  6. Soup maker (optional)
  7. Suitable containers or bags for freezing
  8. Pantry staples from your list
  9. Sharp knife and chopping board 
  10. A clutter-free space to work 

What is batch cooking?

Batch cooking is a simple way to prepare all your weekly or monthly meals in advance. By cooking more than one portion at a time and freezing them,  you can thaw and use a  different meal portion every day as a healthy meal when you want to save time , and is a  much  better alternative for your family than shop bought ready meals  and tomato sauce which can often be high in salt, sugar and other additives.

What are the benefits of batch cooking freezer meals?

  • Batch cooking freezer meals allows you to have a ready cooked homemade dinner available whenever you need it.
  • It is  far cheaper cooking your own make ahead meals  than buying store-bought ready meals
  • Homemade meals are far healthier than store-bought ready meals as you are in control of everything you add to the dish.
  • You can adjust your meals to suit your family’s dietary requirements, such as nut allergies, gluten and lactose intolerance.
  • You can avoid salt, sugars and other unhealthy preservatives and additives.
  • You can hide blended vegetables into the sauces of most healthy freezer meals to ensure your kids are getting extra portions of vegetables at every meal.

How to batch cook and freeze meals

In my post meal planning for beginners, I discussed how to create a meal plan for all your weekly meals. Hopefully, you’re now well on your way to getting organised for your family meal planning.  You could catch up here if you missed it.

We also talked about meal prep time  in my last post and discussed how to prepare everything you need to create your healthy family meals in advance if you’d like to catch up read it here

In this post, we are going to take it to a whole other level; we are going to discuss how to fill up your freezer with healthy portions of homemade freezer meals so that you can reap the benefits of a healthy freezer friendly family meals every day!

And the great thing is, it’s straightforward to execute!

 

 

Follow these simple steps to once a month meals.

  1. Check the meal planner you created in our post and have a look at each meal you’ve listed, decide which meals you could easily cook for monthly batch cooking
  2. Decide whether you would prefer to make extra portions when you are preparing that meal for dinner or whether you would prefer to spend an afternoon cooking all your meals for the week or month.
  3. Check you’ve got space in the freezer as you will need to put those freezer meals somewhere!
  4. Make sure you’ve got labels  (download my free freezer labels by clicking here ) and suitable meal prep containers to fit enough food in for a family portion, and single servings too.
  5. Make sure you have all the ingredients you need. Make a shopping list and go shopping, don’t get distracted, only purchase buy what you need! Download our grocery list here

The rule when batch cooking for families is to check to see how many weeks are in that month and multiply the ingredients by that many weeks. So, for instance, if I usually use a 1x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes in a spaghetti bolognese portion and there were five weeks in the month, I’d put five tins of tomatoes on my shopping list.

I find it easier to cook an enormous big batch of one meal and freeze it,  than spending a whole afternoon preparing a month’s worth of meals, but you do whatever you find suits you best.

Cooking one freezer meal at a time will take longer to build up a stock of dinners but is less time consuming to prepare, and it makes shopping for ingredients is simpler too.

6. Make sure you have ample sized pans or a slow cooker big enough to batch cook the food you’ll be preparing.

 

 

The best meal prep containers for batch cooking.

I like these containers as they can go in the freezer, microwave, dishwasher and  oven ( without the lid, defrost first )

batch cooking for beginners

 

Frozen meal batch cooking ideas.

We all have our favourite meals to cook each week, my advice is to batch cook the foods you are usually cooking for the whole week but just increase the portions ready to freeze.  My favourite meals for freezing are:

  • Soups
  • Pasta/Ragu sauces
  • Stews
  • Casseroles
  • Curry
  • Chilli
  • Bolognese
  • Baked potatoes
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Mashed vegetable
  • Stock
  • Burgers
  • Meatballs
  • Lasagne
  • Burgers
  • Shredded chicken

 

 

Frozen Soups

  • Carrot and orange
  • Leek and potato
  • Roasted pepper and tomato
  • Vegetable
  • Butternut squash and ginger
  • Lentil

 

 

Sauces and stocks to freeze

  • Curry sauce
  • Ragu pasta sauce
  • Gravy
  • Chicken stock
  • Beef stock
  • Fish stock
  • Ham stock
  • Vegetable stock

 

Beef freezer meal ideas

  • Beef stew
  • Beef Casserole
  • Beef curry
  • Meatballs
  • Spaghetti bolognese
  • Cottage pie
  • Chilli
  • Lasagne
  • Burgers

 

Chicken freezer meal ideas

  • Chicken casserole
  • Chicken curry

 

Pork freezer meal ideas

  • Meatballs
  • Sausage casserole
  • Pulled pork

 

Lamb freezer meal ideas

  • Moroccan lamb tagine
  • Shepherds pie
  • Lamb curry
  • Hotpot
  • Lamb cobbler

 

Vegetarian freezer meal ideas

  • Bean and lentil Chilli
  • Quorn  chilli
  • Quorn curry
  • Vegetable curry
  • Quorn shepherds pie
  • Bean burgers
  • Baked potatoes
  • Vegetable and bean lasagne

 

 

Kids frozen meals.

  • Meatballs
  • Fishcakes
  • Fish pies
  • Shepherds pies
  • Pasta Sauces
  • Mild curry dishes
  • Mild chilli dishes
  • Spaghetti bolognese
  • Soups
  • Lasagne
  • Burgers

Add your favourite meals to your list, try to make meal planning as simple as you can at first until you get used to batch cooking, once you’ve got comfortable with the whole process you can start adding more adventurous meals!

My  family’s favourite easy freezer meal recipe

 Here is my family’s favourite healthy meal spaghetti bolognese, you can download the printable version here to get you started on your meal planning and freezer meals journey!

Remember to adjust the ingredient amounts accordingly!

batch cooking for beginners , spaghetti bolognese, freezer meal recipe

Replace the meat with Quorn for a healthy vegetarian spaghetti bolognese.

For more quick and easy freezer meal recipes for beginners click here

 

 

Batch Cooking For beginners

These are the batch cooking basics I follow to start healthy batch cooking. It’s important to have your pantry stocked well with ingredients to make batch cooking easier and cheaper, especially if you are batch cooking on a budget! To read more about keeping stocked with pantry staples & get our grocery list click here

The general rule I follow for batch cooking is to make 4-5 x more food than you would for one family meal.

Here is 1.5lb of stewing steak I used to cook five portions of beef stew.

Batch booking for beginners , meal planning , menu planning ,freezer meals

These portions have been cooled ready to freeze

healthy cooking for families, batch cooking for beginners, freezer meals

  1. Work your way through all the meals on your list,
  2. Prepare them all in advance,
  3. Freeze them in  appropriate portion sizes,
  4. Freeze some mashed root vegetables such as carrot, swede, turnip and potatoes as a side dish or serve with salad

Before you know it, you should have a full month’s meals made in advance!

 

 

How to bulk up your freezer meals

It can be expensive to buy a lot of meat when you are batch cooking. So it’s a good idea to bulk out your meat dishes with some good fillers, my favourite way to do this is to add some beans or lentils to the recipes I make, beans and pulses are high in protein, fibre and keep you fuller for longer, they are also super cheap! I use tinned beans for convenience and dried lentils as they do not need to be soaked overnight!

I usually add one tin of beans per dish of food and approx 1 cup of lentils per meal.

  • Chickpeas are fabulous in soups and curries
  • Butterbeans are great in tomato based sauces
  • Red kidney beans are great for chillis and lasagne
  • Haricot beans great for everything from chillis, lasagne, pasta dishes, curry and bolognese
  • Lentils are perfect for curries, chilli, lasagne, soups, and bolognese.

 

How to make vegetarian freezer meals.

Whether you’re a vegetarian, like meat-free meals or have friends who are vegetarian, it’s always a good idea to have a few vegetarian portions ready in the freezer for when the need calls. There are many ways to tweak your usual meat dishes into vegetarian options.

  • Use meat substitutes such as Quorn.
  • Replace meat with vegetable chunks
  • Replace meat with beans

 

Best Meal Prep Bags For Freezer Meals

You could also freeze your meals in freezer bags and freeze them flat, which helps them defrost quicker and fit better in the freezer.

I like to use these IKEA  bags for my freezer bag meals as they are sturdy, come in multiple portion sizes and they are also great for snacks! You can grab them here! I usually use these if I’m a little short of space in the freezer.

best meal prep bags and containers for freezer meals

best meal prep containers for freezer meals

best meal prep containers for freezer meals

 

Slow cooking freezer meals.

I like to use my slow cooker to batch cook most of my family’s freezer meals, as it allows me to batch cook while I’m at work or out with the kids!

Make sure, if you are looking to buy a slow cooker or crockpot to think about getting a 6.5-litre size like the one below to ensure you can make a huge batch!

slow cooker freezer meals

Freezer labels

Download our free printable freezer stickers today; I have designed a vegetarian style sheet of labels too, to make your vegetarian and vegan meals instantly recognisable in the freezer!

To download the FREE printable versions leave your details below today

batch cooking for beginners , free freezer labels
Standard freezer labels

 

Vegetarian freezer labels

free vegetarian freezer labels , batch cooking for beginners, freezer meals

 just to print onto this  A4 sticker paper!

batch cooking for beginners
Available here

 

 

 

Frequently asked Q&A

What are your go-to dishes for too tired to cook nights? I am vegetarian so I like anything with a delicious tomato sauce, so my go-to meal would be pasta made with my own easy healthy homemade sauce which you can find by clicking here I usually freeze my sauce in single portions for either myself or the kids, I use this for pasta, beans, casseroles and soup, it’s low in fat, low in sugar and low in salt, so perfect for the whole family for a quick healthy meal!

 

 

 

I hope you found this batch cooking guide for beginners helpful, if you’d like more of our weekly updates and free resources, leave your details below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

batch cooking for beginners

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batch cooking for beginners

How To Prepare Simple Vegetable Bags For Meal Prep

In this easy meal prep guide, we will show you how spending some time preparing all the vital ingredients you need to cook your meals will help you get healthy food on the table in minutes. Meal planning and wise food storage are a critical foundation for meal prep.

Do you ever wish you could just open your fridge and have endless healthy food options readily chopped and prepared to choose from, for snacking or for speeding up your cooking time? If you are relying on supplements to boost your diet instead of eating healthy foods then stop right there!

In this post, we will talk you through some healthy meal prep ideas and show you how to meal prep vegetables and snacks to grab and go, so you get all the healthy vitamins and minerals you need in your diet!

Things you will need to start your bags for meal prep:

  1. Chopping board
  2. An empty uncluttered space to work at
  3. A sharp knife 
  4. Some large bowls
  5. A clean organised and decluttered fridge and freezer.
  6. Some meal prep bags 
  7. Meal prep containers or lunch boxes
  8. Large bowls
  9. Food processor (optional) for chopping and grating 
  10. Uninterrupted time to complete your bags for meal prep 

The benefits of meal prepping are:

  • Less waste: think about all the food you throw away each week after all the food starts rotting in the back of the fridge because you didn’t have time to prepare them after a busy day at work. meal planning and meal prepping reduce the waste as you will only be buying food you will eat and will be planning for. Healthier food will be more convenient, therefore you will be more inclined to reach for the healthy option rather than the chocolate bar!
  • Meals are made in minutes:  because all your food for the weekly/monthly meal plan has been prepared well in advance.
  • Meals and snacks become healthier: As fruit and vegetables are easier to grab and to add to dinners, sandwiches and to eat as a snack.
  • You can use a portion control container for easy meal management if you are meal prepping for weight loss and fitness programmes.
  • You can meal prep straight into a lunch box with an ice pack to take to work, this will save the many trips to the burger van or the pasty shop!

We all know how difficult it can be to get a healthy home cooked meal on the table after a long day at work, we also know how daunting it can be to start meal planning when you’ve never done it before that’s why this month we are taking you step by step through all the stages of meal planning ,this includes:

  • Food shopping and pantry staples
  • Meal planning
  • Meal prep
  • Batch cooking
  • Meal prep containers
  • ags for meal prep

Cupboard staples

The first thing you need to do when meal prepping is, make sure that your pantry is always stocked with some staples so that you can always put together a healthy meal from scratch. If you missed my post on stocking your pantry you can read it by clicking the button below!

bags for meal pre , how to declutter your home, how to meal plan for beginners . free fridge staples checklist

Meal planning

An essential part of meal prepping is to plan your weekly meals in advance. if you know which meal you’re are eating for breakfast lunch and dinner, you can purchase the food you need and begin meal prepping! To help you to plan out your meals for the week or month, I have written a step by step guide outlining all the stages you need to follow with free meal planning templates,  in case you missed it you can click the button below!

Weekly menu planner , bags for meal prep

Chopping food in advance

fter unpacking my grocery shopping, I always prep my vegetables and fruit for the week ahead. Chopping and preparing food makes it quick to prepare meals, snacks, lunches and sandwiches. It ensures that its easy for you to include fruit and vegetables at every meal.

How to meal prep for evening meals 

There are many ways you can speed up your evening meal preparation by batch prepping and chopping vegetables to add to sauces, stews, salad, soups and for use as a side dish. once you get into the habit of meal prepping your vegetables you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can knock up a quick and healthy meal!

  • Onions 
  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Peppers 
  • Tomatoes
  • Leeks
  • Courgette
  • Butternut squash
  • Cucumber

 How to meal prep for salads and sandwiches

If you are going to start taking lunches to work with you , make it easier to knock up a sandwich or a salad to go! If you can prepare everything you need for the week , sandwich making will take you seconds and you’ll be less likely to grab a takeout!

Like wise , if you have kids who have a packed lunch at school this is a game changer in the packed lunch making department!

  • Tomatoes
  • Red onion
  • Lettuce/greens 
  • Sweet peppers
  • Celery
  • Grated cheese
  • Grated carrot
  • Cucumber
Grated cheese bags for meal prep

How to meal prep for kids snacks.

if your kids are like mine they are always looking for food and always want it when you are majorly busy and don’t have time to start chopping stuff up! i always have little bags of healthy food chopped up ready for my kids to just grab out of the fridge.

  • Cucumber sticks
  • Carrot batons
  • Pineapple
  • Melon
  • Sweet peppers

Kids meal prep bags 

I make my kids little bags for meal prep, to help me control and reduce the amount of sugary and salty snacks my kids eat in between meals. The price of kid’s healthy shop bought snacks is astronomical so this is a good way to save money too!  I usually add a mix of anything I’ve got in the cupboards 

  • Dried mango
  • Sultanas or raisins
  • Dates
  • Prunes
  • Dried pineapple
  • Banana chips
  • Dried apples
  • Dried cranberries
  • Mixed nuts
  •  Mixed Seeds
  • Fresh fruit
  • Peppers
  • Carrot sticks 

I prepare approximately ten bags for meal prep at a time and put them in the fruit bowl as a healthy size grab bag for school or after-school sports; it’s a great way for your kids to get a quick burst of energy and protein and also easy to grab for packed lunches.

For advice on kid’s recommended portion sizes click here 

Meal prep for Freezing

 Frozen meat bags for meal prep

  • Stewing steak
  • Chicken mini fillets
  • Ground beef
  • Pork shoulder for pulled pork
  • Beef brisket
  • Lamb Chops
Meal prep bags for freezing

Try to freeze your meat as flat as you can in your meal prep bags, this will speed up thawing time when you thaw it out the night before you need and will help if you want to bung it in the slow cooker before you go to work! 

Smoothie meal prep bags 

My kids love smoothies, they will eat them for breakfast dinner and lunch! its a fantastic way to get more fruit and vegetables into your kids without a huge fight! to freeze individual smoothie portions , I grab some bags for meal prep and add a base of spinach, then I add a combination of 2-3 other  fruits from the list below.

  • Bananas
  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Spinach

There is no need to thaw these bags, you can just throw into the blender in the morning with some chocolate soya milk, almond milk or coconut water for a healthy delicious breakfast! You can even add some seeds on top for an extra protein punch!

healthy smoothy bags for meal prep

 How to get into a meal prep routine!

  1. Before bed check your meal planner to see what you are cooking tomorrow.
  2. Thaw the meat needed for your meal.
  3. Prepare sandwiches for lunches and snack bags with prepared vegetables and fruit and place in snack bags for meal prep, then store in the refrigerator ready for tomorrow.
  4. In the morning,  throw all pre-chopped ingredients and defrosted meat or meat substitute into the slow cooker with stock and switch on. (Slow cooked meals only).
  5. If you are not using a slow cooker, the evening meal can be prepared using all the readily prepared food in the fridge.

 For more ideas about how to batch cook for the week head on over to my batch cooking for beginners post by hitting the button below!

Bags for meal prep,  spaghetti bolognese

Meal prep containers 

Make all your storage stackable for fridge and pantry preparation, this makes it easy to see what you have and stops things getting pushed to the back of the fridge! Here are some of my favourite stackable dishwasher safe meal prep containers to make meal prepping a breeze!

Meal prep lunch box

If you are meal prepping lunches or dinners these meal prep lunch boxes are ideal to stack in the fridge and can be reused, just pop them next to some frozen gel packs for a fresh healthy easy lunch!

Bags for meal prep

hese IKEA bags are my go-to meal pre bags as they are tough, reusable and are great for batch cooking and freezing. They are fabulous for meal prepping kids snacks too. In my view, these are by far the best bags for meal prep!

Frequently asked Q&A 

What is the best way to meal prep? Firstly plan your meals, then make sure you have  sufficient containers or bags for meal prep. Then follow our meal prep guide to get you started!

Which foods can be prepared in advance for the week?

  • Cheese
  • Sauces
  • Vegetables
  • Rice 
  • oups

Which meals can I prep ahead?

  • Breakfasts
  • Dinners
  • Smoothies

Which is the best way to prepare food in advance?

  • Chop
  • Grate
  • Slice
  • Freeze

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Bags for meal prep , healthy mango and raspberry smoothie bags

Reasons Why You Should Be Monthly Meal Planning Now!

Monthly meal planning for beginners is a simple step by step guide to help you get your meals organised.

This month, we shall be introducing all aspects of meal planning and discussing how to implement each step.  Planning meals has never been easier with our free templates, meal planning calendar and monthly meal planning tools!

What is meal planning?

Meal planning will mean different things to different people. To some people, it will involve getting the main dishes on the table as quickly as possible, to others it might be getting a month’s worth of meals planned far in advance. Some people might want to start meal planning to start a healthy eating plan or may want to create healthy diet plans for weight loss.

Meal planning to me,  suggests putting procedures and habits into place each day, to enable someone to smoothly transition from their hectic workday into mealtimes,  without having any last minute panics or quick dashes to the supermarket!

A meal planner is a  tool to use, to enable you to forward plan your meals, it can be created around your family schedule and could be a weekly meal planner or a monthly meal planner depending on how advanced you’d like it to be.

The benefits of using a monthly meal planning calendar.

Today we live in an ultra-busy world, we work longer hours than ever before, we have busier social lives than our predecessors did, and we spend more family time together than any other generation, focusing on after-school activities, sports clubs and parties more than ever before.

Even though we have healthy food readily available to us whenever we would like it, many of us grab the first sugary or salty snack that we can get our hands on, and we are a nation of junk food addicts who are used to super speed food served in a blink of an eye.

Any super organised person will tell you how much they rely on their meal planner to help them stick to a healthy meal plan and to avoid having to eat pallid unhealthy ready meals in an emergency.

The benefits of using a meal planner are:

  • Super speedy meals whenever you need them
  • Healthy home cooked meals, packed full of goodness
  • Always knowing what’s for tea every evening
  • Wider choice of meals
  • Less food wastage
  • Less impulse purchasing in the supermarket
  • Healthy meal plans
  • Less salt and sugar in the diet

 Monthly meal planning can be very daunting and overwhelming if you haven’t done it before but once you get into the swing of things you’ll never look back!

If you are seeking to plan out meals for the week or month in advance, using a weekly meal planner or monthly meal planner can help you get organised.

Food planning/meal planning is far easier than scrambling around trying to find something in the kitchen at 6 pm after a busy day at work,  and it is definitely worth the effort!

Making monthly food plans is a bit like going out for a run, the hardest part is starting!

Making a weekly meal planner.

Before we dive into the depths of monthly meal planning it is advisable to start with a weekly plan.this will give you some ideas of the meals which work for your family, the types and amounts of ingredients you will need  and is a great introduction to monthly meal planning ,so to start you weekly meal plan :

  1.  Grab a pen and write down all the meals you usually like to eat throughout the week, it doesn’t have to be fancy just a quick list of 7 meals you and your family like to eat regularly.
  2. Write a quick list of the regular activities you attend each day and evening such as work, kids activities and sports, visiting relatives etc. Just to give you an indication of which blocks of time in your day you are going to be unavailable to make a meal from scratch. 

For example, if you are always at swimming lessons until late on Wednesday evenings, it would be tricky to prepare a big meal when you get in.

Now you’ve got a basic outline of the days you are busy, and the days you are free, and the meals you like to eat.

Weekly meal plan calendar

These weekly menu planners and grocery list is a simple way to plan healthy family meals a week in advance,  and is designed to work well with my free planner pages which you can download by clicking the button below!

Weekly menu planner 

This is a simple weekly menu planner with a grocery list.  It has space to jot down anything you may have ran out of or any ingredients you may need to buy. To download this weekly meal planner template click on the download button below!

FREE weekly meal planning calendar, monthly meal planning

How to use the weekly meal planner

Jot down on the weekly meal planner, all the activities you have on this week. Remember to include the weekends and any evenings you are busy and are not able to spend time a lot of time cooking. I find that I often need to grab a quick meal for the kids if their sports activities clash with meal times!

Weekly meal planning calendar
Write down everything you and your family have planned this week! 

On the evenings you are busiest,  schedule the quickest and easiest meals to make from your list, then schedule the meals that are hardest or take up the longest time to make onto the evenings where you are free. For example, pasta with a homemade (defrosted,) sauce is our go-to meal when we need to be at karate for 5 pm, it’s quick but still healthy. If you’d like to check out my batch cooking recipe for my freezable pasta sauce read this post

Weekly meal planning calendar, monthly meal planning for beginners
Write the trickiest meals on the  days you have the most time! 

Weekly Meal Planner template.

This is a slightly more in-depth meal planner than the weekly menu planner and is excellent to print if you have small children who have snacks and packed lunches for school as it includes a space for breakfast, lunches and dinners. This is a must for budget meal planning! To download click on the button below! 

FREE weekly meal planning calendar

Themed meal planning calendar

Organizing your weekly meal planner by themes. A country theme, for example,  like an Italian night, or favourite foods of the family night, a  meat and vegetarian night,  can take the boredom out of meal times and can inspire some fabulous dishes and get the creative and culinary juices flowing! My ideal night is the English night as I get my favourite egg and chips! to download this weekly menu planner template click on the download button below!

monthly meal planning calendar for beginners , FREE meal planner theme night , how to plan your meals.

The Family Meal Planning calendar

This meal planner is a favourite in our house as everyone gets to eat their favourite meals during the week.

Free meal planning calendar

My advice would be to start simply, so you don’t get overwhelmed, try planning and shopping just for a week until you get the hang of it. Using a family menu planner is a great way to get the family to eat together and a great place to start because you are not having to learn new dishes and probably have a lot of the ingredients already in your pantry.

I have put together a beautiful FREE bundle of different weekly and monthly meal planner templates, try different plans to see which works best for you!

Monthly meal planning calendar

Once you have got used to the weekly meal plan it is time to start monthly meal planning! Simply take the meals you’ve been eating for the week and transfer them to the monthly meal planner! If you have a few other meals you’d like to add to your plan, you can replace some of the meals with those for a couple of the days to mix things up a bit! click on the download button to get this monthly meal plan calendar.

 monthly meal planning for beginners
Monthly meal planner template

Jotting down the meals which take a lot of preparation onto the quieter days on your planner ensures that you have plenty of time on those days to prepare the time-consuming meals.

Now you are in control of your meals for the full week; you know what you will be eating and when you’ll be eating it, so now you need to write a shopping list to buy everything you need!  To download my monthly meal planner and grocery list just click on the button below!

monthly meal planning free checklist

Meat such as chicken can be frozen and thawed the night before you need it, ready, to chuck into the slow cooker the next morning!

In my post , Healthy Meal Prep Ideas, I will share with you some amazing meal prep ideas to make it easy and quick to knock up those healthy meals in minutes, I’ll also be sharing with you my tips on how to prep those healthy meals for the next step in our meal prep extravaganza! Don’t miss it, subscribe today to receive our updates!

If you’re a beginner why not try downloading some of our beautiful meal planning FREE templates to see which would fit into your weekly schedule. If you’re searching for that simple and super versatile recipe then we have got you covered!

Frequently asked Q&A  

How can I use the monthly meal plan on a budget?  Monthly meal planning is perfect for people on a budget because there are no special ingredients or expensive gadgets to purchase. All my meal planner templates are free to download and you can get started straight away. All you need to do is follow the simple steps outlined above using the meals you already cook on your budget and start your monthly meal planning or your cheap weekly meal plan!

What are some good monthly dinner menu ideas? I’ve put together some of my go-to family dinner recipes which are also perfect for batch cooking and freezing to get you started you can check them out by hitting the button below!

How do I make a healthy monthly meal plan? you should find that the monthly meal planning lends itself perfectly to anyone on a healthy eating plan, as you can prepare and chop all your healthy foods in advance with a little planning ahead and meal preparation. For more information on how meal prepping can help you to create a healthy meal plan and healthy monthly meal plan on a budget click the button below!

How to do I know which is the best meal planner for me? If you are new to meal planning I suggest you start off on a weekly meal planner and just stick to the same seven meals each day of the week. If you find one meal isn’t working for your family then swap it for a different meal, that’s the beauty of meal planning, you can adapt it entirely to fit your lifestyle! one you have got used to meal planning you can move on to the monthly meal planner.

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For more  family meal planning tips and recipes, I think you’ll also like: A slob comes clean

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 monthly meal planning calendar

FREE Amazing Pantry Staples List Printable To Download Today!

Are you sick of making meals in a hurry, are you winging most mealtimes with something you’ve excavated out of the bottom of the freezer? 

I got so sick of staring blankly into the fridge every evening hoping that a healthy home cooked dinner would just jump out at me that I decided it was time for drastic action! I got together a basic pantry list which was a list of staples which I use all the time and needed in my kitchen at all times. They are the basic ingredients to all my recipes. My basic pantry staples shopping list is great to tick off and pop on your purse ready for the next grocery shop.

Over the next month, we will be taking you through the principal steps of meal planning, batch cooking and meal prepping to make cooking healthy meals an absolute breeze! In this post, I will be sharing with you all the ingredients you will need for a well-stocked pantry, and I will be gifting you with my amazing free pantry staples list printable and fridge staples list absolutely free!

My life at home is very very hectic, I juggle work, a really busy after school schedule, weekend sports activities,  my spouse works most weekends, goes out early in the mornings to work and gets home at appoximately  9.15pm most evenings due to his long commute. This means that I am often cooking in a hurry but also have to cook meals that fit in with my kids and spouse’s routines. To enable me to feed everyone healthy home cooked meals I’ve really had to up my game when it comes to meal planning and organising the family meals.

What is meal planning?

Meal planning is a whole lot more than just writing a list of things you’d like to eat each week. With a few carefully honed tips, we will discuss how to get organised step by step and get healthy meals planned and cooked, with minimal effort. 

 Stocking up on basic pantry supplies.

In this post, we will be discussing grocery shopping for your pantry staples and we will focus on the items you need to keep in your pantry, to whip up a healthy meal in minutes.

Having a well stocked pantry is the foundation of all successful meal planning.

If you’ve got all the essential pantry supplies you need in the pantry at all times, you should always be able to knock up a quick, healthy meal within minutes and should always be able to feed unexpected guests at any time.

I will also discuss the simple method I use to put away your groceries, so you use everything efficiently and avoid any food waste.

Basic grocery list for pantry staples.

Of course, it isn’t as simple as just popping out and doing the weekly shop, bringing it home and putting it away! That would be too easy! that way also leads to overspending on unnecessary food you will never use and will also lead to lots of food wastage. did you know that the average family in the UK throws away  24 meals a month totalling £60 a month!

I have created a basic grocery list of kitchen staples that I always have in stock in my pantry; this enables me to cook a quick, nutritious, low-fat family meal, reasonably cheaply.

Download your master pantry inventory list then use it every time you write your shopping list! Tick off what you already have in stock before you go.

5 steps to follow before buying pantry supplies.

  1. Clear out your fridge the day before you shop, This tip really is a game changer! Empty the fridge, discard anything out of date or anything you know you won’t use. Then give it a thorough clean down inside and out, so it is always clean and organised ready for your fresh food to go in! organising starts before you go shopping!
  2. Schedule the same day each week to do your weekly shopping; we will discuss why later on in the post.
  3. Juice any fruit and vegetables which may be past their best. drag the juicer out from the back of the cupboard and let’s give those sad bits of fruit a new lease of life! I often use apple juice to sweeten Ragu sauce, and I use orange juice for carrot and orange soup.  Make soup or stock with any vegetables which are needing to be used up. Soups can be frozen and used for lunches, and stock as a base for thickening sauces or stews and make a healthier addition to kids’ meals.
  4.  Make a note of all the things you need to replenish your pantry supplies and add it to your printable pantry stock up list.
  5. Write down a quick list of the meals you’re going to be eating over the next week, don’t worry too much about getting it perfect, you can read my meal planning post by clicking the button below! Jot down all the ingredients you’ll need for your recipes for the week on your household shopping list.

 6 steps to organising your kitchen pantry items.

To stay on top of your meal prep and organising it’s not as simple as just unpacking the shopping and shoving it anywhere in the fridge, the next stage of the process is crucial to avoid waste, follow these simple steps to putting food away.

  • Stack your fridge and cupboards as you would if you were stacking a supermarket shelf.  All the longer-dated stuff goes at the back!
  • As you put each item in the fridge note down the day it expires on your planner, this is a crucial factor in meal planning, without this stage, you will struggle to stay organised no matter how much you plan! We will cover this in depth in my meal planning post so don’t forget to subscribe to get our updates and get the code to our amazing resources library!
  • If you spot something in the cupboard you never use bin it, declutter as you go!
  • Chop carrots, onions, cauliflower, celery, cucumber before putting in the fridge, this makes it easy to grab throughout the week for meals and snacks, and it also reduces waste. Store in an airtight container.
  • Grate a large portion of cheese and store in an airtight container for quick grab sandwich fillers, salads and meal toppers. we use a lot of cheese in our house so I grate the whole block before I put it away. I also grate feta cheese for salads and to stir into pasta! 
  • Slice tomatoes for salads, sandwiches, and sauces for throughout the week. for more information on how to do some basic meal prep click the button below!

Pantry staples list printable 

To download your well stocked panty list just click on the button below to be taken to the printable pantry list!

pantry staples list printable  pantry inventory list pdf.

Fridge inventory list

pantry staples list printable

Pantry list template

Pantry list template, pantry staples list printable

Shopping to a schedule using a basic grocery list.

If you shop on the same day each week with a grocery items list, enables you to:

  • Budget and spend less as you know exactly what you need to buy and are not tempted to buy bizarre jars of stuff you’ll never use!
  • Avoid mid-week emergency shopping trips, huge amounts of money are spent on impulse purchases when you on each shopping trip. If you nip to the express supermarket the chances of you coming out with only the item you went in for are pretty slim. If you’re anything like me you’ll probably come out with arms laden with unnecessary items! cutting down on the number of supermarket trips will almost certainly save you heaps of money in the long run!
  • Keep your fridge clean and organized as you regularly clean your fridge the night before you shop!
  • Unpack your shopping quickly and easily as everything is organised and not overflowing with lots of stuff you don’t need!

I hope you found this pantry staples list printable helpful, in our next post, we will be talking depth about menu planning, so keep your eyes peeled for that post or subscribe to our mailing list, just leave your  Email address by clicking below to get it dropped straight into your inbox!

To go to our next post in this meal planning series just click the button below!

Top Tip!

These trolly bags are amazing for organising your groceries into fridge, freezer, pantry and vegetable sections ready to unpack at the other end! Really handy for speed packing at Aldi!  Click below to order from Amazon

Four Trolly bags nestling in a shopping trolly. Pantry staples list printable, the top tip to organise your shopping.

Frequently asked Q&A

Can I use the pantry staples list printable if I have a large family?  My pantry staples list printable  is perfect for people with a large family if it is used in conjunction with meal planning and batch cooking. It will help you cook large batches of meals to freeze and serve in a hurry and will also help to reduce your food wastage.

Do you have a pantry staples list printable suitable for vegetarians?  Yes, our pantry staples list printable is packed full of herbs spices, beans and pulses suitable for a vegetarian diet, the fridge staples printable is predominantly vegetarian with a small meat section which can be ignored.

For advice about portion sizes for children and adults go to https://blog.myfitnesspal.com

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Pantry staples list printable.

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pantry staples list printable. a tower of waffles with raspberrys and flowers