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Meal Planning

  • If you plan your weekly meals, this will help you to save time and money. Decide what recipes you are going to cook and which nights you will be in. It may be that some nights you have very little time and will need to make a quick meal. Think about the variety of meals too.

  • A good example would be to have 2 fish dishes 3 meat and 2 vegetarian meals a week. Try and include at least 1 oily fish dish like salmon, mackerel or tuna.

  • Make a shopping list and stick to what you have planned, it is easy to get side tracked!

  • Chicken is a great way to start the week. If you roast a chicken on the weekend then you can make a stock and use any leftover chicken for a risotto or for sandwiches. The stock can be used for soups, sauces or risotto.

  • Cook in batches and freeze for example bolognaise, casserole or soups, these will keep for a good month.

A sample of a week’s menu:








Roast chicken with potatoes and vegetables

Make chicken stock with the carcuss

Pea and courgette risotto with salad

Use the chicken stock

Salmon teriyaki with noodles and spinach

Lamb meatball tagine with giant couscous and beans

Vegetable fritters with salad

​Lemon baked cod with potatoes

Beef tortillas with guacamole

Budgeting tips

Fruit and vegetables - Buy fruit and vegetables from a market and try to stick to what is in season. Seasonal produce tends to be cheaper

Buy own brands - Own brands are often less expensive.

Make a list and stick to it! It is easy to get side tracked into buying what you do not need.

Save on waste - when you plan for the week consider what you already have at home so that nothing goes to waste.

Budget - decide what you budget is before you plan your meals. You can easily research food prices online.

Keep essential staples in the cupboard

These are the very basics needed for preparing simple meals.

Fats and Oils

Use different oils depending on the way the food is being cooked. When oils are heated it changes their properties and can become unstable at high temperatures for example olive oil is best not used for stir-fries. Better to use vegetable or sesame oil. Try and choose unrefined oils and keep them in a dark cool place.

Oils to keep in the cupboard are:

Olive oil – good for salads and cooking but not at very high temperatures.

Sesame oil – good for stir fries and Asian style dressings.

Sunflower oil

Rapeseed oil


Coconut oil


Plain flour

Wholemeal flour

Corn flour

Noodles and pasta

Try to go for the wholemeal varieties these are high in fibre. There is also a huge range of alternative pastas available which are low in gluten or gluten free. Try different types such as buckwheat, rice or millet pasta.

Wholemeal spaghetti or pasta

Rice noodles

Egg noodles

Soba noodles





Basmati rice

Brown rice


Risotto rice

Beans and pulses


Kidney beans


Haricot beans

These can be dried or tinned.

Herbs and spices

These should be kept in a dark place in an airtight container

Dried oregano

Dried Thyme




Chili powder




Garam masala



Rice vinegar

Balsamic vinegar

White wine vinegar


Baking powder

Mustard preferably Dijon


Soy sauce

Thai fish sauce

Sweet chili sauce

Vegetable and meat stock cubes

Tomato ketchup

Tomato puree

Tinned tomatoes

Tinned tuna

Raw cane sugar

Essential Cooking Equipment

  • Large non stick frying pan with a lid

  • Small frying pan

  • Wok – great for stir fries, best to get one which is non stick

  • Casserole pot

  • Large, medium and small saucepan – better if these have a heavy base

  • Steamer – great for cooking vegetables

  • Colander or sieve

  • Grill pan – this works well for low fat cooking and for grilling meat and fish

  • A good set of knives and a knife sharpener

  • Hand blender – for making soups, dips, pastes and sauces

  • Mini herb chopper

  • Chopping boards - one wooden, one for meat and fish and one for vegetables

  • Wooden spoons

  • Whisk

  • Potato masher

  • Good peeler

  • Cheese grater

  • Range of mixing bowls

  • Measuring jug

  • Scales

  • Measuring spoons

  • Range of roasting tins

  • Range of baking dishes

  • Utensils – slotted spoon, spatula, tongs, ladle

  • Garlic press

  • Scissors

  • Cling film

  • Kitchen foil

  • Baking paper


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