Meal Planning Basics – Meal Ideas, Shopping Tips and More.

Meal planning basics, ideas, grocery tips, and printables.


I started casual work last May which turned into full time work in August. After a few months, my great routine of cooking lovely meals slowly started to slide. I was coming home exhausted and sometimes as late as 6.30 so getting in the kitchen and spending at least an hour cooking and cleaning up wasn’t very appealing. The solution? Toast. An apple. Anything I could grab and eat quick so then I could do housework, preschool work or blog work.

Scroll down to the bottom of this post for your own printable meal planner.

At the beginning of this year I decided this really had to change. Not only was it boring and lazy, but not very healthy either! I also felt pretty bad for my hubby who’s day started long before I woke and usually ended after I got home. A hard working man needs a good meal right? After being super inspired by Jordan’s snapchats of all her beautiful meals (add her! Her username is @thewhittakers) I decided to start meal planning!

Meal planning basics, ideas, grocery tips, and printables.

How I Plan Our Meals

I plan out our meals for Monday to Friday on Sunday night. I’ll look in the fridge, freezer and garden to see what we have and what needs to be used. Because I finish work at different times each day, I’ll plan the easiest meals for the days where I work the latest.

Monday: I get home at 5.30pm. Easier meal on this night.

Tuesday: I get home at 6.00pm, sometimes later. Super easy meal on this night, like chicken wraps or salad! Sometimes Aaron might even make it.

Wednesday: I don’t work Wednesday so anything goes on this night.

Thursday: I finish at 4.00. Every second week on payday I’ll do the groceries after work. This means getting home a bit later and another easier meal.

Friday: I finish at 4.00 and am home early. Any meal for this night!

The weekend: the weekend can be unpredictable and we never really know what we’re doing. We often end up in Invercargill at my parents so have dinner there. Otherwise I’ll cook whatever we feel like! On the days where I have time, I’ll try to cook extra so it can be frozen and put in the freezer for another night.

Ideas for Easier Meals

-freezer meals (frozen lasagne, meatballs, etc)

-chicken wraps



Meal planning basics, ideas, grocery tips, and printables.

Other Favourites from Our Meal Plan:

-steak, kumara fries with homemade aioli and salad

-quinoa and beef balls, with veggies

-spaghetti bolognese – mince with lots of veggies and lentils! This means more nutrition and makes the meal go further. Hello leftovers!

-crumbed schnitzel with veggies

-homemade pizza (with normal base or cauliflower base.

-chicken drumsticks and veggies



When I go grocery shopping I usually get a range of things that Aaron can use for his lunches. Since he works on the farm he comes back for lunch and can make eggs on toast, a sandwich, etc. He often eats leftovers for lunch too. My usual work lunches include smoothies, chicken wraps (my favourite), and salad. Salad is more of a summertime option, with chicken wraps my choice in winter. For my wraps in winter, I’ll sub in sprouts instead of lettuce since lettuce is super expensive then! I like to stock up on frozen berries and bananas that I use for my smoothies too.

Grocery Shopping

When I go grocery shopping I’ll plan out my list before I go. I’ll have a look in the pantry and write down the items that I need to stock up on. I always keep a pad of paper on the fridge and write down things as I use them as well. I’m a real budget shopper. I buy the cheap brands and get all the things on special. I buy fruits and vegetables that are in season and make the most of what I’ve already been growing in my garden. If things that I usually get are on special, I’ll get quite a few to stockpile in my pantry. I always look at price per kg/litre etc, as sometimes supermarkets can be sneaky with their pricing. I’m just a real bargain hunter!

Buying Meat

Most of the meat we eat is straight from the farm, but I’ll always buy chicken too. For our farm meat, it’s always already frozen in large portions, so I’ll usually do two meals out of one bag. Eg, steak twice a week, or mince used in two different ways in one week. I can’t live without chicken so I’ll buy it in the larger packs at the supermarket, then put it in meal sized snaplock bags before freezing.

Printable Meal Planner

I made up a printable meal planner for our fridge and thought I would share it with you. I like to print it in A5 (two on one page) and keep a wee stack of them on the fridge. There’s two options for you, a 5 day planner and a 7 day planner. Download it here.  Printable Meal Planner

I am honestly really enjoying meal planning! Having my plan on the fridge means that I’m always organised and it’s ready to cook when I get home from work. I’m happy and motivated to cook and definitely enjoy eating yummy, nutritious meals. Aaron is loving it too!

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