No, you’re not imagining it, it’s starting to get a little bit cooler in the mornings and overnight. Autumn is here, it’s delicious. Whilst it might still be over 30 degrees most days we can start thinking of those cooler weather meals.
One of the best things about cooler weather is the casseroles stews and slow cooked dishes that become so appealing on cooler evenings. I find that they provide so much scope for meal planning, bulk cooking and freezer storage. It’s so satisfying to cook up a large batch of something like Beef and Red Wine Casserole or Chicken Cacciatore and know that you’ve got 3 meals in the freezer as well as one on the table.
Meal planning can seem daunting but its only as complex as you feel you want to make it. Mine is a list of dinners on the back of an envelope, this becomes the basis of my shopping list. A friend has a 4 week rotating menu, you might visit her house and find her whipping a large batch of white sauce and roasting 8 sweet potatoes. The white sauce will be portioned for use in recipes and the sweet potatoes will be mashed. She even has a freezer inventory (it includes brownies – she is a Dietitian after all).
I find the biggest benefit of planning meals is that I have that thought, “what are we having for dinner?” once. It’s not a multiple times of day intrusive thought. And its not those irritating conversations with other family members “what do you feel like for dinner?” “Oh, whatever” or “I don’t know, what do you feel like?”
Planned meals give me a sense of being organised, and it might sound silly but a sense of security. Eating is, after all, a very important part of life and health.
Clients often request meal plans, but I have found over the years they are harmful rather than helpful. What is helpful is making your own meal plan.
- Make a list of your families favourite meals
- Make a note which of these meals could be prepared in bulk and frozen
- Which are quick meals that would take less than 20 minutes to organise in the evening?
- Which meals would be great for lunch as left-overs
- Which meals can be re-incarnated? My fave is Bolognese as lasagne, tacos, nachos, on baked potato, on toast, as cottage pie. (Not all in one week!!)
Once you’ve got your list, spend some time allocating meals across your week, taking into account your commitments. See what works for you and your family.