Sometimes our eating habits need an overhaul. This is when meal planning becomes your biggest ally.
These past few months we have had to change the way the family eats. I have always cooked fairly healthy, low GI meals but now we have had to introduce carbohydrate free dinners. This has meant that I have had to rethink our entire meal plan.
Meat free Mondays no longer contain pasta or challenge me to make gnocchi. Now it includes things like Frittata’s and salad.
Mincemeat Tuesdays can’t contain spaghetti bolognaise, sloppy Joe’s or even taco’s anymore. Shepard’s pie and cottage pie now either feature cauliflower mash or mashed turnips instead of potatoes.
Wednesday night fish has also become a new adventure, tuna lasagne made with zucchini slices instead of lasagne sheets.
Thursday there is no roast potato with the chicken and beef stew is now filled with patty pans, baby marrow, onions and carrots, there is no rice in sight, unless it’s cauliflower rice!
Friday night is a big night for dinner; we start with soup, then salad and main course and occasionally desert. With it being winter here in South Africa and my family really liking soup, I am having to look up new recipes, the family favourites of potato and leek soup, curried butternut soup are needing an overhaul too, so besides the standard chicken soup, we are now having baby marrow soup, carrot soup, leek soup and a bell pepper soup! I do admit to serving some carbs in the form of couscous or brown rice on a Friday night.
Saturday and Sunday night have always been about leftovers so the meal plan stands unchanged.
No matter who you are a meal plan is essential when changing your lifestyle, I had forgotten how important it is to have a template when planning for your new eating habits. I am not partial to the low carb high fat (banting) mostly because I like my carbs, my breads and pasta’s.
Now lunches include healthy carbs and spaghetti bolognaise is made with zucchini spaghetti. I at least enjoy the challenge of new recipes and cooking challenges.
Have you changed your eating habits recently? Gone on a new diet? How did you make the change?
Dear family, friends, newsletter subscribers, Facebook friends and acquaintances and most especially, followers.
Some exciting news…. I now only work part time and am focusing on building my side business into a full time business.
For those who have been following me, you will know that 2 years ago I started a meal planning business called Kashering Your Life. I help people plan their meals according to their dietary requirements and draw up their shopping lists. This helps reduce,not only the grocery budget, but also the amount of food being wasted in households. My grocery spend is down 20% from 3 years ago when I started meal planning for myself and we waste a lot less food. While I cannot guarantee a savings of 20% I can guarantee that you will save money.
I have been on Chai FM radio with Alan Bender and The Yad Aharon show, as well as being interviewed for an article in People magazine South Africa. I have written guest articles for blogs such as anniemation.co.za. and beingme.co.za. I am a volunteer ambassador for the Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, which aims to fight obesity and food wastage worldwide.
I plan to hold workshops every 4 months on meal and menu planning including how to successfully use online grocery shopping. I have been working on my first new paid workshop which will be hosted as a private Facebook group and will run over 12 weeks. This will include a free 20 minute Skype session before and after the course, as well as live and recorded tutorials, workbooks and resource tools to help you.
18 months ago I started “We’re getting Sorted” a Facebook group to help me get my home more organised. This group is over 460 people strong, all with the aim to take control of their homes. I am now incorporating it into my business. I do not come into people’s homes and re organise or declutter; what I am doing is giving support for you to do it yourself, while holding myself accountable, by working on my home alongside the members of the group. As this group grows, I hope to invite experts in decluttering to give us advice and help, as well as hold competitions.
For 45 years being a nurse was my passion. I was 5 when I decided on my career path. Now my passion is helping people who would like to take control of their health and that of their family through meal planning.
With our rand in junk status, now more than ever, we need to find ways to make our money stretch. I am looking to help as many people as possible. If you are interested in working with me, or know of someone who could benefit from either a course or one on one sessions with me, please feel free to forward them my contact details.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
You like winging it in your kitchen. You want to meal plan but you hate recipes! No problem.
Meal planning with no recipe
Meal planning is about more than recipes, it is about a lifestyle change. Simplifying your life and making time for you to spend doing what you prefer. It also saves you money.
In a previous blog post we looked at themed meal plans and that is where not following a recipe will fit in. Dinner Theme Meal Planning
Your meal plan template allows you to go to the store and use your imagination for ingredients.
Using a template
If you step into a store with the idea in mind that your main meal ingredient is chicken, you then can decide while in the store or in your pantry what other ingredients you will be adding to make this into a healthy balanced meal.
You don’t need to only plan your main ingredient; you can even plan your cuisine. An example of this is Mexican + Meat. Now you can go to the store knowing you want to buy meat and spicy/tomato ingredients.
This method allows you to make use of specials, as well as not buying too much and having it sit in your kitchen and go to waste.
While this is a method I do not think I could use successfully in my home I do think that it would be very successful for single people, college/varsity students and possibly stay at home moms (as an excuse to get out of the house possibly?).
For single people meal planning can be a little tedious and most have a fairly fluid social life.
This means if you meal plan for more than a week in advance you will likely have food going to waste. Just having your template can work not only for meal planning, but also for your social life.
For example if you have Fish on your template for a certain night, then you can use this to help decide on a restaurant if you are going out for dinner. It can also be used to decide whether it is canned tuna or perfectly seared tuna steaks, whichever you have time for.
For college/varsity students living either in an apartment with other students or on campus where you only have limited way to prepare foods, then this method will also help with budgeting and saving money.
Having a template and being able to use that to decide on your ingredients will be a big part of your life. Students living in res will usually only have a kettle and microwave and this can to a certain extent limit your options, go online and search for ideas to help you.
Going online to look for microwave recipes will help. Instant noodles are very versatile as a base for some great meals. These can definitely be bought in advance and then dressed up, with ingredients bought fresh on the day.
Choose your flavor of noodle and then add. For example choose a fish flavoured instant noodle meal and add some salmon off cuts and a tablespoon of cream cheese for a delicious supper.
For those sharing, it will definitely help you with your food budgets.
Stay at home moms
Staying at home to raise your children is an amazing thing to be able to do. If you are the type of mom who wants to stay at home, and if your finances allow you this option.
There does come a time, however, when even the most dedicated moms need to get out. Going to the mall and buying your groceries can fulfill this need two fold. The first is retail therapy without feeling guilty for spending money; the second is feeding your family nourishing meals.
Shopping without a recipe can allow you to choose ingredients that are versatile in terms of the ages of each family member.
I love hearing how people go about deciding what’s for dinner, so why not let me know how you decided and what methods work best for you?
Here are 10 reasons to grocery shop on line. In June 2015 I started this blog and in the first article I spoke about how much I saved with online shopping. Nearly 2 years later, I can still say it is worth the hassle.
Yes it was a huge learning curve on how to do the online shopping and still get everything I ordered. I have learned the best days to order, what I can’t order and what I must specify as ‘no substitutions’. The first time was really painful!
1. You can shop anytime
Our country is held hostage by the taxi drivers, staff at the end of the day are in a rush to get off work so they can catch the last taxi of the day. If you are late finishing work you don’t have to rush to make it before the store closes, because there is no closing time.
2. No rude staff
I have to laugh when I see the signs on the tills that remind staff to greet the customer with a smile. I have seen this very rarely. Customer service seems to be a vague concept that they are taught and then promptly forget. The staff is quite content to carry on their conversation about the evening before, what’s happening in their favourite soapy or how the new ‘protocol’ is unfair or the boss is rude. This is whether the client speaks their language or not.
3. You can wear your pajamas
There is no dress code. Now I have seen people (mostly women) at the shops in their slippers, hair in curlers and once at my local store a lady in her nightie! I am not saying you must get dressed up and made up to go to the shops. I know some would disagree, you never know who you might meet! At least in your own home you can happily do your shopping in your skivvies if you want, no one will judge you.
4. Your stuff is safe!
Shopping from the comfort of your own home, means your wallet, cellphone and children are safe. There are no pick pockets or child snatchers around! No worries about keeping your handbag close or people distracting you so their sticky fingers can lift your property. You don’t have to worry about someone jamming your locking signal and then making off with the contents of your car or even your car itself.
5. Guilt free parking
Since you won’t need your car, you don’t need change for the ‘car guard’ to help you unpack your trolley or help you reverse out the parking that you got into quite easily on your own. I don’t always have change as I use my card for most things and then I put that in my phone cover and leave my bag at home. I have a savings option on my card, where the total purchase is rounded up and the difference is put into a little savings account. Sometimes when I do have some change with me it is only 50c or so and I feel guilty that with my huge shopping trolley all I can give is some tiny change. I did try once to give a guy a can of food and he handed it back to me with a disgusted look.
6. You save money
One thing about online grocery shopping is that impulse buying is reduced to a minimum. You have your list and you search for those items only. There are no checkout counters, so no sweets or chocolates to tempt you. You aren’t wandering up and down aisles and taking things off the shelf, because they caught your eye.
Another thing I learned to do is to open the profiles of the stores that offer online shopping and compare prices. You can shop at 3 stores at once (maybe soon other grocery stores will offer online shopping). You get to choose your products and make use of any specials that are offered.
7. It’s environmentally friendly
When you shop online you have the option of saying no to plastic bags! This not only helps the environment, it helps your pocket too. The delivery arrives in plastic containers, which are then unpacked in your home, no having to worry about carrying heavy stuff or plastic bags breaking.
8. You can shop in stages
One thing that I am sure has happened to you, I know it has happened to me more than once. In fact it happened just last week. You are in the store and shopping is taking longer than planned. Suddenly you realise the time and you have to be at a meeting or fetch the kids from school, an extra mural or a friend. This means you are either going to be late, not going to be able to complete your shopping or have to abandon your trolley all together and come back another day. You land up with your shopping
Shopping online means when you can come back all your groceries are still in your trolley where you parked it. You don’t have to start again; nothing is going to go off, because it sat in the car while you did lift schemes.
9. You can take as long as you want
This goes a long with the last point. You can shop in stages. It can be days or weeks. You can add to your trolley anytime you want. If you log on and add to your trolley as soon as something is finished in your cupboard, you will not leave anything off of your shopping list.
10. No children
Shopping with babies and small children can be difficult. Having to push your trolley and control an over tired toddler can cause any mom to have a meltdown. Shopping online means you avoid, cranky, tired children, your own children and other people’s children too. It also means that if it is nap time, you can stop shopping, put your child down for a nap and go back to shopping. There is no nagging for this toy or that sweet. This applies to children of all ages.
For breast feeding mom’s it means you can feed in comfort while still doing the shopping. No one complaining about you feeding in public, no having to go feed your baby in the public bathrooms either or going to sit in your hot car for privacy and then having people look in your window.
Some smaller stores allow you to phone in your order and they deliver, this is usually the butcher and specialty stores and has the same benefits of online shopping.
Do you online shop and if not, I would love to hear why not?
What’s in the pantry?
Your pantry cupboard is an important part of your kitchen. If this is in a mess and dis-organised, it is not only difficult to decide what to make for dinner, but it also wastes money.
How many times have you gone to the store bought something only discover on your return that you already have 2 or 3 of the same product in the cupboard already! I own my kitchen, do you?
Being kosher means that we can’t always get a lot of food stuffs, so I developed a habit of buying unusual kosher products, which then sat in my cupboard for years. Last year I got rid of 2 cans of waterblommetjies. They had expired 3 years before.
The expiry dates on canned good is not really an expiry date but more of a date of when the producers will no longer guarantee the quality of the product inside. As long as the can is not bulging your food is safe to eat.
I did think, however, that having sat in my cupboard at least five years and still not been used in a recipe, it was unlikely that I would ever make a waterblommetjie bredie (stew). There were also other products that needed to be tossed.
Keeping your pantry cupboard tidy and organised is a must if you want to stop wasting time and money. If you ask a family member to look into a disorganised pantry cupboard and pick something to make, 9 times out of 10 the answer will be, ‘there’s nothing to eat’!
Keep like with like
Keeping items of a similar kind together will definitely make your time spent in the kitchen easier, cut down on your grocery bill and allow you to use up products before they expire!
It doesn’t need to be OCD tidy to be organised. If you have all your baking ingredients, your pasta’s and cans on their own shelves, condiments together on another shelf and spices together on a different shelf, you are what I consider organised. Items don’t need to be alphabetised or facing the same way, unless that’s what you want of course, but being arranged like with like will be enough.
Follow in the group as we get through the week with short daily tasks to organise the pantry cupboard https://www.facebook.com/groups/gettingsorted/.
How does meal planning fit in with get sorted?
We’re getting sorted is all about clearing out the junk however, one of the most important ways to prevent the clutter from returning is to develop new habits.
This week we look at meal planning, this topic is one of my favourites. I have an entire blog about it. I offer online support on the topic. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/booking-form/
Try this little exercise, write down everything you think you need to buy for your next 7 meals. Now go and look in your kitchen, the fridge, the freezer and the cupboards. What was on your list that you already have? Did you have more than one? Are there things that you had forgotten you even have?
Meal planning is about more than just knowing what is in your cupboard, it is about saving money, saving time and saving your sanity.
Planning your meals in advance is about taking control of another aspect of our homes and lives.
You don’t need a recipe book to meal plan, it is not set in stone.
What to cook?
Next week we will be sorting through our recipe books. Meal planning will give you a better way to know what cook books you want to keep close at hand, which ones you want out of the way and which you will be getting rid of?
An important part of meal planning is knowing what the family enjoys eating. If you don’t think meal planning is for you, why not try something simple? Take a piece of paper and write down everything you know your family loves to eat. You now have the start of your voyage into meal planning.
The most organised space in my house is my kitchen. Meal planning also renewed my love of cooking.
Gone are the days of coming home tired, opening a cupboard or fridge looking inside and closing it, then putting pasta on the stove, because it is easy and I am too tired to think or I forgot to take something out the freezer.
Now, even though I still often come home tired, meat is ready to cook because I took it out in the morning to defrost. I didn’t have to think about supper, my thinking was done when I had energy and put the meal on the menu.
There are still days where I look at the meal plan and think, ‘I don’t feel like this today’ and we land up with pasta of some type.
I am more likely to cook what has been defrosted than not as I don’t want to waste it and let it go off, so the family is eating much healthier Take out more than once a month is not in my budget.
Do you meal plan or do you wing it?
A meal plan can save you money. If you are budgeting you need to do this
Even if you think you are good with budgeting, you may be wasting money without even realising it.
My first time
The first time I created a meal plan and took the shopping list with me to the store and stuck to it, I spent less than ever. I didn’t have to worry about whether my card would have enough money in or not.
Feel like you are earning more
Since then my saving skills have gotten a lot better, at one time my eldest daughter even asked if we were earning more money. In previous months, by the last 10 days before payday the pantry cupboard, fridge and freezer were ‘empty’ and now there was food to be had all the way through to the end of the month.
The truth is that the pantry while on the lean side, wasn’t empty but because there were no meal plans, what was in the cupboards didn’t seem like food, so we ate a lot of pasta in those days.
Literally from the first month of meal planning all that changed. I ‘shopped’ in my kitchen first and did an inventory of what I had. I took this inventory and scoured my recipe books, then stumbled across a site called ‘myfridgefood.com’. On this site you type in your ingredients and it searches the internet for recipes using those ingredients. I then drew up my shopping list for the items I didn’t have.3 Steps to Mastering Your Grocery Bill
In house trainning
I did have to retrain the family to not help themselves to whatever they wanted. The salad drawer in my fridge has been turned into a snack drawer. Anything in the drawer can be taken without asking permission first, the rest is off limits, without consulting me first.
Now that we have a meal plan in place, we are also discovering a hidden saving. There is almost no food wastage any longer. I only buy what I need, occasionally I will get something that isn’t on the plan. Often, this is the food that usually gets thrown out.
My meal planning is not perfect, when I am stressed, or tired, I will either not plan properly, or just ignore the plan all together.
10 simple ways to save money with meal planning.
- Create a meal plan, whether it is a weekly one, or like I do, a monthly one.
- Based on your meal plan draw up a shopping list and stick to it
- Look out for bulk specials, then cook and freeze for later. Once frozen, you can put it into a future meal plan.
- When possible, plan using specials that appear in the local papers.
- Whether you have a meal plan and shopping list or not, do not shop when you are hungry, tired or feeling sick. You will then most likely not be able to stick to your list and you can end up buying food you don’t need
- Don’t go to the grocery store more than once a week if possible. A minimum of 10% of the final bill will be things that you don’t need but rather that you want. This is costing you money.
- If possible do not take husbands and children with, this definitely costs you more!
- Shopping in your kitchen, before you go out to a store will also prevent you from buying food you already have and then wasting it.
- Buying bigger size packages is not always cheaper. Compare the prices first.
- The store brand is also not always cheaper than the well-known brand. Check first.
A little change, can make a big difference.
Do we have coupons?
Couponing is big business in the USA, reality shows abound on this topic. Here in South Africa though, we don’t really have coupons.
Years ago we got coupons in our subscription magazines and the weekly local papers. Those days are gone.
Except for PnP VIP vouchers for senior citizens (only available for use in Hypermarkets) most South African coupons are in the form of an app or a loyalty card and they can save you a lot of money when used correctly.
Do you know what is out there? Are you using it effectively?
The first one under the spot light is:
PnP Smart Shopper card.
If you don’t have one, I suggest getting it. Whether or not you like PicknPay the card is worth it. You earn points which can be converted to cash, there are discounts and often in their brand match campaign, when you swipe your card, at the end of the till slip either has the message ‘you saved …. on this purchase or ‘get R… off of your next shopping”. I got a slip once that said I had R84.50 off of my next shop.
Often they will have items for sale where you earn extra points when you swipe your card.
You get vouchers when you swipe your card at different times if the year, these are specific to your spending habits. You get extra points to use during your birthday month.
Earn points and to use for shopping or even travel. I like to accumulate my points for a year and then use them for my grocery shop, I often land up only having to pay half my bill and sometimes even less. The points expire after a year.
A big plus for me is the Fresh living magazine which you get free with your first purchase of the month, if you have a smart shopper card. I have found and made some amazing recipes in the magazine.
The Woolworths store card which you can only use at a Woolworths store also gives great discounts, however, it works like a credit card and you are charged interest on your balance.
In the instance of the Woolworths credit card these each have different quarterly discounts depending on the colour of your card, you also get a % back for using the card at other stores. You also get a voucher for a free “Taste” magazine (on the black card). These are credit cards and can be used anywhere.
Spar has two options, a loyalty card, which can only be used at the Spar that issued the card and the Spar rewards program, which you need to sign up for on your pc and gives you rewards just for signing up, plus vouchers that you can use at participating stores, you also link your loyalty card to the rewards program and earn more points. Then download the app to your smartphone. You will receive your vouchers on your smartphone; you type the voucher number into the keypad at the till to redeem your rewards.
The Checkers Eezee coupons app for your smart phone allows you to ‘book’ your specials and when you get to the till you type in the voucher number that the app generates and it will give you your discounts. I have once been able to buy a product with the app and combined it with another coupon app and landed up pay R5 instead of R65 for my item.
Clicks Club Card and Dischem
While neither of these are grocery stores, a lot of us do our shopping for toiletries at these stores. Their loyalty cards do offer great savings and bonuses.
When using banks cards together with loyalty cards you once again increase your savings.
The Unilever deals site is accessed from your computer. They have very good discount “coupons”, either two for one or often between 25%-50% off. I once spent R5 on Omo washing powder as it was on special at the store, plus I had the Unilever code.
An app that allows you to ‘book’ specials on your phone. Once you are done shopping, you upload a picture if your full till slip, then gives you money back in their virtual wallet that you can use at one of many partner stores.
I am sure there are some that I have missed.
How are you using apps and loyalty cards to save you money? Did you even know we had so many?
The diet plan
A 7 day meal plan is included in practically every diet known to woman kind and a few men.
Dieticians draw one up for you, Weighless® and Weight Watchers® have full books of weekly meal plans. Then there is The Real Meal Revolution, the Atkins diet, the Hollywood diet and about 100 others. Also the diet for bodybuilders who are trying to build muscle, they also have to stick to a strict eating regime in conjunction with their weight training.
Why do they all have meal plans? The answer is simple, knowing ahead of time what you are going to eat for the week helps you better to stay on track.
While nothing will beat will power itself, it is still easier to stick to your diet with a meal plan.
Meal planning for good eating habits
When I first started meal planning for my family, it had more to do with budgeting, food waste and time management than anything else. Once we started this new way of life, my husband and I stumbled across a benefit that was obviously known to those who create these diets. We both lost weight!
It doesn’t matter if you are with a dietician, following a popular diet or trying to go it alone. Meal planning is the best way to start your new healthier lifestyle.
An important step to meal planning for weight loss is to plan right after breakfast. This is because you are no longer hungry and you will be able to plan with your brain instead of with your stomach. If you are not hungry, you will make better food choices on your plan.
1, 3, or 6?
For most households, planning dinner is often enough but if your plan is for weight loss or weight control, it is important to plan not only your 3 meals for the day but also your snacks.
This planning also helps if you are combining good eating habits with gym. You can plan your carb intake to coincide with your cardio workout and your protein intake to fit in with your weight training.
Understanding the basics of calorie control and the difference between good and bad carbs will help you plan your meals better.
Are you trying to get healthy or lose weight this year? Why not try a meal plan, whether it is from the dietician, or a book, or you are doing it yourself? Without it you will get nowhere.