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Welcome to the series: Family Meal Planner Based On Fresh Vegetables. I will give you some ideas on how to plan healthy meals for your family with only one trip per week to the supermarket. Save time, save money, save waste, stay safe at home!
This post is part 1 of 4 article series: Organize your kitchen and eat healthily.
Have you ever calculated how much time you spend planning, buying, organizing and preparing 3 meals per day? It can really add up, especially if you have a family. If you are not one of the lucky ones that can benefit from a good school canteen you don’t even get the “school lunch break”. So what are the alternatives?
• Take-away? It can work every once in a while but they are not really a healthy solution. Restaurant meals can be very rich and heavy, not suitable for everyday consumption.
• Prepared meals? Do you remember the scandal of horse meat in frozen food? Horse meat is at least horse meat, but who knows what else is hiding behind the labels. Also, the amount of meat or fish in the portions is usually quite small as manufactures need to increase their margins. So those prepared meals have more carbs and fats compared to proteins.
• Planned weekly menus? It seems to me that a planned weekly menu adds to the workload. Yes, you will save on going to the Supermarket every other day, but you will have to plan the menus, negotiating with the children, writing down the ingredients list ... just to discover that when you are at the supermarket several ingredients are actually not available or looking old and sad!
So how can you still have a life while ensuring your family is properly fed with fresh food and healthy vegetables? I organize my kitchen like our ancestors used to do before large hypermarkets were invented:
I go shopping only once per week to stock up my kitchen with all essentials (sauce, meat, carbs and seasoning), I only buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season and looks fresh and plan my meals accordingly.
Once a week shopping list
When I go shopping my list is sorted by the following categories:
- General pantry items:
- Everyday use:
- seasoning (es. salts, cube stocks, vinegar),
- fat for cooking (es. vegetable oil, olive oil, extra virgin olive oil),
- sauce and spices (es. mayonnaise, mustard, chilli pepper)
- preserves (es. tomatoes, anchovies, capers, preserved vegetables, tuna, jams and marmalades)
- Special use for desserts or baking
- nuts and dried fruits (es. nuts, almonds pistachios, pinenuts, raisins, dates)
- baking (es. sugar, chocolate, vanilla, yeast, baking powder, cinnamon, flours)
- Everyday use:
- Menu-based items:
- Pantry items:
- breakfast (es. coffee, tea, cereals, oats)
- drinks (juice, wine, long-lasting milk, beer, liqueur)
- carbohydrates (es. pasta, rice, pulse, flours)
- Fresh food:
- meat, fish, cheese, butter, milk, cream, yoghurt, eggs and charcuterie (like ham, prosciutto, salami)
- fruits and vegetables
- Pantry items:
General Pantry Items
You know that you need a good month's supply of your general pantry items. Make a list of what you generally use and check what you already have in your pantry. When you go shopping, make sure you fill up your supply with the items you are missing.
To help you out, you will find a printable list on my next articles: Italian ingredients. You can use it as a starting point and add your other favourite ingredients to the list.
A general family meal planner you can adapt
Our typical day menu will look like the following, you can modify it based on your family routine and preference:
- Breakfast: cereal, milk, juice, coffee or tea
- Lunch or dinner: protein, carbohydrates and vegetables
- Lunch or dinner: soup, pulse, charcuterie
- Snack: fruit or dessert
For your menu based items, make sure you buy enough proteins, carbs, vegetables for the week.
It doesn’t matter what type of meat, fruit or vegetables you buy. Just buy what looks fresh and you are sure it will last longer. Once you are back home, you can make your menus for days ahead accordingly.
However, the weekly meal plan will be based around The Vegetables you find at the supermarket.
Why? Because carbs can be stored for months, and fish, meat and cheese frozen, but vegetables are best fresh.
If you, like me, want to focus on quality and fresh food, this approach makes sense.
For ideas for a comprehensive shopping list, you can check my next article:
Hope you find this article helpful, please if you have any questions, write them in the comments below and I will be happy to respond and help. You can find delicious ideas if you FOLLOW ME on Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram or sign up to my newsletter.