Best Idea I Never Had.

Meal planning.

I never thought I’d be one to menu plan… in my head I believed myself too much of an eclectic free spirit to bog myself down in such day to day household drudgery as that. In reality, I’m a disorganised, forgetful type that sucks at planning anything at all & has trouble deciding what's for dinner at the best of times, so, really, if anyone should have been meal planning from the get go, I realise now, that it should have been me.

For some reason I thought that meal planning would hinder spontaneity. I thought that I would be stuck with fish for dinner on a day I wanted eggplant. I thought that it was too much work… the whole, you know, planning part. I thought I’d be stuck in the kitchen preparing lavish meals from scratch… however, I had to do something, my well-worn “system” obviously wasn’t working. My usual strategy for shopping & meal preparation swung from doing a big shop (sans shopping list) choosing this & that & whatever else I fancy, getting home, looking at everything, like a lamer version of Ready, Steady, Cook! and realising there is nothing to eat, or, forgoing the big shop completely & running to the shop twenty minutes before dinner, too tired to bother with anything much, clock ticking, and ending up with something frozen & fast.

Unable to face another night of prepacked spinach & ricotta tortellini, I decided to give this meal planning bizzo a go. Other people did it. Ooohparently, other people even liked it.

But, instead of coming to you today from a place of many weeks or months experience in the field of meal planning, I am not yet out of my very first week. It’s taken me 28 years & 5 months to finally sit down, decide what we’re going to eat for a week, and write the corresponding shopping list… and it’s a m a z i n g.


I have been to the supermarket, since Wednesday, once, instead of 7 to 10 times. I have prepared 5 new meals from scratch. They have all been delicious (and healthy). I have not had the anxiety of peering into the fridge at 10 past 5 & wondering if an egg & a piece of rockmelon could somehow make a meal. It has been EASY. I highly recommend it.


There are all sorts of sites & resources for this underground world of meal planning – I considered a bunch of them before heading over to the Taste website & printing out some things I thought we might like. Taste is absolutely free & pretty damn awesome. Anything you could want to make is on there, and you can search for healthy budget options, picnic food for kids, easy dinner recipes… everything. The coolest thing is, you can print out your recipes & add the ingredients to your shopping list which you can also print out – all you need to do is consolidate the items (i.e. 250g or beans for one recipe & 250g of beans for another, equals… erm… 500g of beans all together. You learn something new everyday.), decide what is for breakfast & lunch & head off to the supermarket better prepared than you have ever been before.


I want you to believe me when I tell you that you will not look back. Even if you are the most disorganised, lazy, procrastinating type in the world (*cough*), you will love it. Every new meal I dish up is accompanied with an enthusiastic “How great is this meal planning thing…?!”.


I am more than happy for this to turn into a Meal Planning love fest. Tell me of your love for meal planning. Tell me how you make it even easier. Tell me why I didn’t do this earlier….?! (Okay, that last one is rhetorical) Tell me why you don’t want to do it & I’ll tell you why you should.

Pics are all things we’ve had for dinner this week, from Taste.


  1. I am a fan. Life is much easier when you do plan, since going to the much too over stimulating grocery store with a child who has a "Dynamic Personality", should be done as few times as possible during a week. Otherwise mummy would likely end up "permanently nervous" and shipped off to one of those hospitals for the basket weaving set.

  2. Oh Lola.

    Is it too soon to say "I love You"?!

  3. I should totally start meal planning. This post is very timely as last night I gave up thinking of something and my 2 year old had fish fingers and we ended up with takeaway pasta.

    Today, I'm stuck again and the only thing I can think to make is pasta with Napoli sauce (which is pretty much what I ate Sat night and DH ate last night...).

    But, how do you get around the spontaneous part. I'm just not sure I can decide in advance what I feel like eating!

  4. I've done it for the past two years and never looked back. I've got to the point now that I know I can open the fridge, cupboard or freezer and have ingredients on hand for at least 5 different meals if I don't necessarily feel like what's on the menu for that night. It's fantastic.

    Another great way to sort out your menu plan is find 4 recipe books you really like that have a variety of recipe's in them, these will become week 1 - 4. Pick 5 - 6 meals our of each book, write up your shopping list from this. Have day 7 for something simple or left overs. If you do this for 4 recipes books you will have 4 weeks of yummy meals. Work on a 4 week cycle and you will never stare in the fridge wondering WTF you are going to cook again. Also mix and match your weeks so it doesn't get too boring.

    If you get super duper organised, work out your non perishable foods for the four weeks and do one big shop for the month, then you only need to shop for your fresh food. You will be amazed at what you save.

    Sorry for the big waffle :)

  5. Melissa - Seriously, I beg you to give it a go. I can't believe the differnce this has made in just one week.. it's crazyness not to give it a go!
    If you choose 7 meals you like, or new meals you like the idea of, you can still choose what particular meal to eat when (ie you're not locked in to having pasta bake on Thursday) and I have found knowing what there is & knowing what we're having is such a relief that I look forward to it, whatever it is! (No bloody pasta with Napoli sauce in sight... I KNOW your pain...)

    Tell me you'll try just one week? I feel like Jake in the Blues Brothers; "I see the light!"

    Jo - Waffeling you most assuredly are not! I am entirely new to all of this and any hints or tips you can impart are entirely welcome!

    That is such a good idea re: the recipe books - I certainly have enough of them to choose from... *blushes*
    Mind you, I am not, and I doubt I will ever be "super duper organised"... ;)

  6. seriously, we are so alike its crazy.
    for the past 5 days ayesha and i have been saying we are going to have a food plan for this fortnites shop (tomorrow) so today, ive been sitting here, looking at food inspiration websites, and finalising a 2 week food eating plan, to buy for tomorrow.
    then taking a break i visit ur blog and see ur doing the same thing!

    ive wanted to do it for the longest time! when i was working at kikki k, they had these pads of paper menu planners, often thought id buy one to plan it that way but never did, now its a trusty notebook and pen lol

    please do share awesome recipes, any good veggie ones?? lol

  7. I am with you vic- in the beginning of the post- where i feel like its so .. so...so ... organised!!! Chef does all the meal planning- and we are daily shoppers but I can see the positives! I am still laughing at loal novas comment about her child having a dynamic personality- HILarious!!!!

  8. Im into it Vic, but sometimes forget. You have given me a swift and stirm reminder to write the meals for the coming days based on my load of shopping just bought 2 hrs ago. Thanks x
    ps: i want to recipe swap too! Vegie ones???

  9. Yay for you Vic! Well done. I've been a menu planner for years now, and it's a great way to go for making sure that meal times aren't a huge burden. But my main problem is it works for a couple for me and then something always seems to "happen", the menu is put aside for a bit and I don't get back to it!! Then later I have to start all over again. When it's working it's a brilliant thing. One day I'll manage to keep it working for me! lol.

  10. Good on you Vic! It makes life soo much easier. I write mine on a piece of paper and put it on the fridge and choose from it the night before what to make. My problem sometimes coming up with things to cook that I like but the bonus is it makes shopping easier and cheaper too. Keep up the good work!:)

  11. Jodie - tried to email you but - phooey! Messaged you on Etsy instead - made THE MOST DELICIOUS spinach & cheese quichey thing tonight... forgot to take a pic though... doh!

    Cath, Yes, that young Lola is a card isn't she? ;) Unless you happen to be a basket weaver...

    Tracey - How didn't I notice your new avatar icon earlier...?! Oh, that's right, my internet sucks, that's why... but it's awesome, oh yes, I can see that now.
    Sounds like you are from my breed of grocery shoppers lol. Will let you know what recipes I pick for this week & how they are - they're going to be mostly veggie me thinks.

    Pam - Ah, a sage & wise menu planning woman from way back! Surely you're allowed to fall off the menu planning wagon occasionally... sometimes fish & chips just won't wait... ;)

    Catherine - I feel as though I've been newly converted to something lol, and I want everybody to know the joys of Menu planning... boy is the world glad I'm not religious....

  12. Told ya you were a wise woman Vic ;) Yep I'm a planner too ... once a week to the supermarket then ususally cook a whole lot of dishes on a Saturday afternoon. Into the freezer, then zapped in the m'wave each night.
    Dinner for one is the one and only lonliest task in my contented life especially for a retired party guest, ex caterer and a fanatical foodie!
    Planning stops the doldrums, stops you eating crap or worse the same rustled up quickie meal over and over ... plus slashes the expenditure in more than half. More money for opps shopping and G Sales ;) Another fabulous post. xc

  13. I've been meal planning for over 25 years. Life is so much easier. One thing I would recommend you do is keep those weekly meal plans organized somewhere - in a file on your computer or put the plans in a note book. Include with the meal plans the new recipes you used so they are easy to find should you want to make that meal again. Also include any notes about the meal, ie family loved/hated, quick and easy, too time consuming...
    Then after you have been planning a while, you only need to look back at past menus to make your new menus. It gets even easier!

  14. I am a planner.. but I cannot plan meals. I cannot cook. It's dreadful. Even when I follow recipes and lovingly take my time and care they do not turn out great. They turn out edible and okay, but not anything to celebrate. So I feel like I am wasting all those gorgeous recipes.

  15. Ooooh, and again you remind me of good resolutions... months ago I decided that we should eat lunch at 7 every evening, that a household plan may make things easier for us, and that we should act as a model for our little daughter...

    But still we are a bunch of disorganized, procrastinating slobs...

    I know that we can't go on living like that, especially since we have our little girl who I don't want to be living like that. I KNOW that it's time to change some habits, and get our lazy bums moving!

    ... I get the feeling that we might need some help ;).

  16. Vic, just don't expect me to meet your folks just yet ;)

  17. this exact topic always flies around my office. half us girls meal plan, and half of us can't meal plan to save ourselves!

    but goodness, doesn't it help when you do it? mainly because visiting the supermarket every damn day is THE most annoying part of a week.

    taste rocks. i print out a lot of recipes at work. shhh. don't tell my boss.


  18. I LOVE meal planning, I plan like a deranged woman on a mission, I even consult old meal plans to fine tune my system. I scour through ABC Delicious magazines for inspiration and I have a pre-printed shopping list that only needs a highlighter pen. Um, okay, I seem kind of neurotic now, but if you ever want The List, just let me know and I will whip it through to you :) x

  19. I menu plan too - I was sceptical at first also but have found it makes life SO much easier and helps avoid the 'what are we having for dinner' dilema at 6 o'clock as well as the numerous trips to the supermarket which is my least favourite task as it is. I love the Taste website - am always on there hunting for a new recipe to try. It's fabulous to have some many ideas in the one spot. Your week's meals look delicious!


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