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Once upon a time when I was commuting to London for work, it seems so long ago now but life was pretty hectic.  With office hours that stipulated 9.30 to 5.30, but really you left when the job was done and then an hour commute back home depending on the traffic had a ridiculous impact on my home life.  Of course I also wanted to fit in my gym workouts after work too – my gym opens at 7am, which was far too late if I was to make my train or miss the traffic into London.

Looking back, I have no idea how I coped!  It was a surprise that I didn’t resort to a life of frozen meals and takeaways.  I still managed to lead a relatively healthy lifestyle in terms of food and I covered how I managed this in my post a few months back.  One of the things that I forgot to mention that really helped keep on track and stay organised is meal planning. Even now I’m still in love with it and it makes my life so much simpler.  

I try to make my meal plans as flexible as possible just in case my schedule changes and I don’t have time to cook.  Additionally, I always incorporate leftovers into my plans so that if I’m not in the mood to cook I have something healthy pre-prepared and I have no reason to worry.  

When producing a weekly meal plan I tend to first check out the cupboards, fridge and freezer and see what is left from the last weeks grocery shop and get my creative head on.  I’ve often pinned different recipes during the week, found a recipe that has inspired me or had a craving for a particular meal that I want to try the following week.  Moreover, my schedule is also taken into account so I know when I am eating in or out and when I’m going to be busy.  I endeavour to get a good variety of foods into my week and take it from there.  Once I’ve drawn up my plan I write my shopping list based on missing ingredients to create a week’s worth of healthy meals.  

Some benefits of meal planning include:

  • It saves money – you only need to buy the ingredients that’s on your meal plan. 
  • Keeps you on track – during busy times it’s nice to know what you are doing at all times, including meal times so that you aren’t tempted by too many takeaways and frozen meals.
  • You can build in snacks to your meal plan to anticipate your hunger so you’re not caught out by the vending machine at work.
  • It makes better use of food reserves from previous shops that have yet to be used.
  • A reduction in food waste – you can incorporate leftovers in to your meal plan so that they don’t go to waste.
  • Takes the faff out of cooking – I hate faffing around in the kitchen.  It’s nice knowing what you are going to cook rather than struggling to think of a meal to cook on the spot. 

*There are lots of other great meal planners out there on other blogs, websites and Pinterest* but I thought that I would create my own weekly meal planner that is FREE for you to download and print:

[gview file=https://unconditionallynourished.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Weekly-Meal-Planner_Template]

Well there you have it!  These are just some of the tips and benefits that I find helpful when it comes to meal planning.  I kept the weekends free on the planner as these tend to be more relaxed and I like to just go with the flow as I have more time to cook.  I hope that you find this post useful in some way and let me know how you get on with my weekly meal planner if you decide to use it.  Monday is meal planning and grocery shopping day for me so I better make a start.  

Have a great start to your week everyone!

Do you plan out your weekly meals?  If not, why?  What do you find works best for you?

*edited

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