One of the best eco-friendly things I’ve done has to be planning meals in advance. I was a bit uncertain at first as I generally thought I was pretty good at not wasting too much food and, to be honest, it felt like it could end up being a bit too much hard work and something that I wouldn’t stick to for long. In actual fact, I was completely wrong – it’s helped save time and money as well as reducing our food waste.
Generally we do one ‘big’ shop at Lidl or Aldi once a fortnight along with weekly trips to the market and Waitrose for the things in their ‘unpacked’ range. We also get our milk and yogurt delivered and about once a month I pop to our local refill shop to stock up on washing up liquid, soap and laundry detergent. It sounds more time consuming than it is, although we’re working on getting the ‘big’ shop down to once every three weeks so that we can cut down on using the car. With all that I mind I sit down once a fortnight to plan two weeks worth of meals. I also try to keep the cupboards well stocked with baking essentials like flour and sugar and some basics like pasta and rice so that I can put together an emergency meal or two if needed. Factoring in after school activities, play dates, and general fussy eating has its challenges but I adopt a take it or leave it approach and hunger normally wins!
A fortnight’s meal plan looks something like this:
Saturday: pasta bake
Sunday: roast chicken
Monday: chicken pie using leftovers from the roast
Tuesday: chicken pie
Wednesday: veggie pasta
Thursday: egg fried rice
Saturday: pasta bake
Sunday: roast – this time I just roast a couple of chicken breasts so there’s no leftovers.
Monday: veggie lasagne
Tuesday: veggie lasagne
Weds: veggie pasta
Thurs: sausages, veg and chips/mash
I’m vegetarian so I often make myself a big pan full of veggie soup for the days when everyone else has chicken pie – I throw in any leftover veg from the Sunday lunch along with the broccoli stalks, a tin of tomatoes or leftover passata from the pizzas, a stock cube and some pepper and then blitz it all up. This usually lasts me several days. Where possible I also try to cook something that will be enough for two nights so I save on energy and time. Every other day or so I’ll put a loaf on in the bread maker and about twice a week I’ll make some biscuits and cakes. I’m trying to be organised enough to get the baking to coincide with the meals being cooked so that I cut down on the amount of time the oven is on.