As many of us remain cooped up in our homes, the meals we prepare and eat have become more integral to our daily lives than ever before. When life is but an endless cycle of Zoom calls, intense hand scrubbing and generally just trying to keep everything the heck together, our meals are the highlight of the day. And the more you plan them, the more that can be true.
For some of us, the way we are now shopping for food is a new experience. Gone are the daily, post-work, pit-stops to pick up dinner on our way home from work. Now we’re limiting our travel to the supermarket and stocking up on more in one go.
Maybe you’ve always been a once-a-week, ‘Big Shopper’ but didn’t plan your meals out in writing – you just had a general idea of what you needed. Well, whether it’s to help avoid food waste or to stretch your budget, there’s still a lot to be said for putting pen to paper on a 7-day eating schedule.
Perhaps the best thing that weekly menu planning can help you with right now though is your mental health. Whilst we don’t know when this current situation will end or what will happen, the simple act of menu planning could help ease anxieties by just giving you some control over something.
To help you get started and plan better, here are a few tips we’ve learnt.
Create a bullet journal with one of our dotted notebooks (or use one of our planners)
The first thing is to write down what you’ll be having for each meal over the upcoming week. You could use the weekly view section in one of our planners. Or a clearer way to do this is with bullet journaling. Using one of our bullet notebooks, you can draw a grid of 3 columns and seven rows: breakfast, lunch and dinner for each day of the week. And the best thing about bullet journals, you can add all your own little flourishes. Get some inspo from our article with bullet journaler extraordinaire Louise Chai.
List your ingredients
Once, you’ve got your meals planned, you need to write your shopping list. And for us, all lists are better when written on paper. So if you’ve made a bullet journal, this could be another, beautifully designed part of your meal planning page or you could just write it down in your notebook. In which case, might we suggest this sweet, peachy number from illustrator Bodil Jane? It's rather appropriate for shopping lists.
Prepare to be flexible (so write in pencil)
You should think of your meal plan as a draft, especially in times like these when ingredients are hard to come by. Some meals you might just be able to swap out some ingredients for some others, some you might have to lose altogether and wait for another week to enjoy them. So write in pencil. Of course, if your bullet journal looks better in pen, you have our full blessing to ink over the top once you’ve managed to nab all the ingredients you need.
Check the sell by dates on food
Even when you manage to get the ingredients that you need for your meals, check the use by dates. You don’t want to find that your plan for a Friday fish pie ends up in the bin because the fish went off on Wednesday. So be ready to switch meals around if the freshness of your food calls for it.
Try and get a balance
This point is more of a dietary one but planning out your meals in advance and seeing everything written down can really help you find a healthy balance in your diet. Make sure you get plenty of fresh veg but times like these definitely call for comfort foods and your old faves. So balance that Tuesday mac & cheese with Thursday steamed veg – eat happy and healthy.
Ready to draw up your week's meals? We've concocted an array of designs to add a little flavour to your menu planning.