During lockdown we have all had to cut down our visits to the shops, to limit our exposure to the virus. Whether you are doing weekly shops in person or getting your shopping delivered, it is definitely the time to shop smart and do some meal planning. I know, it’s not easy so that’s why I’d like to share with you some tips:
Make an inventory
List the foods and items you already have at home – a simple first step! We often forget to check our pantry, fridge and freezer before going shopping. It’s amazing how much food we buy and keep “for later” that we end up never consuming. This is bad for our wallets and waste – with a lot of excess food being thrown away.
Sort out your recipes
After checking the ingredients you have at home, you may already have some favourite recipes you’d like to make for the coming week. Check how many meals you can prepare using these ingredients, write a list of additional items you need to buy and remember to balance your diet looking at the EatWell Guide. Even in tough times, you can’t just live on cake!
I’ve prepared for you a simple template for meal planning, where you can write down the recipes you are planning to do day by day for the whole week. HERE
If you are not used to cooking check out some of our recipes and use a Pinterest board to collect new ideas.
The quantity of food you need to buy will vary significantly depending on how many people you are living with, but keep an eye on portion sizes. Read the suggested portion on labels such as cereals, rice and pasta, for example: the recommended portion for breakfast cereal is 30g. Check it on a scale and you’ll see that it is much smaller than the full-to-the-brim bowl printed on the front of the packaging.
Make sure you have plenty of vegetables and fruits (at least 5 a day), giving a special place to pulses (beans and peas) as they are a good source of protein.
Cook more, less often
Save energy and time by preparing some basic ingredients ahead. I tend to roast my vegetables in the oven in big trays, sorting them by cooking time. I also double the portions for rice, pulses and pasta, so I can store those ingredients in the fridge for 2-3 days and combine them with different sauces throughout the week. There’s nothing wrong with meals made from leftovers – as well as reducing food waste, you can get creative with what you find in the fridge. Just make sure the food has been stored safely if you want to avoid food poisoning!
Go shopping once a week
Now that you have a plan for your week and a list of ingredients you need to buy: stick to it and try to go shopping only ONCE a WEEK.
It will be safer for you and the people you are living with to avoid going out shopping every day – but it will also offer you less distraction and less opportunity to waste money. Let’s be honest: how many times have you popped out to buy “just 1 thing” and ended up buying 20 others! Stick to this rule, and you will save money and time, as well as avoiding exposing yourselves and your friends and families to the virus.
I hope this post inspires you or gives you some ideas. If you have more suggestions share them in the comments!
CLYO PARECCHINI, LIVE WELL COORDINATOR
Clyo heads up Wen’s Live Well cooking and food growing courses in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Classes explore in a practical way how diet and lifestyles has an impact on the planet. Attendees learn and try new plant based recipes, spend time in the community garden and enjoy a delicious lunch.