Meal planning: the key to wasting less food?

When I first learned that meal planning was one of the best ways to avoid food waste, I was pretty against the idea.

I am not a planner, especially when it comes to cooking. I prefer to cook with ‘guess-ipes’ than recipes – meaning I look in the fridge and cupboard, fish out anything that looks like it needs using up, stick it all in a pan together and add a healthy dose of olive oil and some seasoning.

It doesn’t always work out. Word of warning: honey and butterbean stew is an experiment best avoided, as my family would no doubt be quick to tell you. But generally the results are tasty enough – and on the plus side, very little food has the chance to go off in the fridge and get binned.

This approach doesn’t work for everyone. For those who have many mouths to feed, having a ready-to-go weekly plan can save precious time and make food shopping far easier.

More recently, I’m coming around to the idea that a bit of planning does help. I still don’t like the idea of being pinned to eating a specific meal on a specific day, but having a plan for a few meals up my sleeve does come in handy when I’m in a rush and low on inspiration.

If you’re looking to give meal planning a go, you may like this flexible meal planning guide by Love Food Hate Waste. For the fellow freestylers out there, they share ideas for flexible meal plans that still give room for some culinary creativity.

And if you’re a planner at heart, or want to get some new recipes under your belt, you might want to check out this 7-day vegetarian meal plan from BBC Good Food. It even includes a ready-made shopping list! For a meat-based version, check out this 4-week meal plan.

Happy cooking folks! If you give these a go, do let us know you found them (anais@cagoxfordshire.org.uk). If you have any more tips we can share to help people waste less, we’d love to hear from you!

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