If you are the chief grocery shopper and cook of the house, you’ll know that feeling on shopping day of “Arg what are we going to eat next week?!”. While I love to cook and have a big stack of recipe books, I’m guilty of doing the same meals over and over and find I go through stages where I really lack inspiration for new meals.
I have to say, ideas for meals and planning for the week ahead has become easier thanks to the internet. I have found some great recipes through blogs and also more recently the website Bite.
Bite contains more than 10,000 recipes from some of NZ’s top food personalities, chefs and cooks including Al Brown, Ray McVinnie, Nadia Lim, and Dr Libby Weaver so there’s a huge amount of inspiration for meal planning. Bite is an extension of the publication that comes out in the NZ Herald each week. As well as recipes, there are also kitchen tips, wellness articles and competitions. It is more than a food website though, it’s a community you can actively be a part of, reviewing recipes and even uploading your own. My favourite thing about Bite though is the ability to to save recipes, filter by different ingredients and create shopping lists, I’ve been using it to help me plan my meals, and you can too.
Here’s my tips on meal planning.
To plan my dinner meals for the week, I like to go by the following guidelines in choosing meat:
1-2 vegetarian/meat free meals
1-2 fish or seafood meals
2-3 lean red meat meals
The rest white meat
Fish, particularly oily fish is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids which are essential for good health. Omega 3 fats are an important part of our cell membranes, and because we’re made of cells, omega 3 fats influence many different areas of health, including heart health, mental health and controlling inflammation.
Red meat is one of the richest sources of iron and zinc. Because I tend to run low on iron, two to three small serves of red meat a week help keep my levels up.
Vegetarian meals are kind on the planet and are generally lower in saturated fats, and higher in fibre and plant based proteins.
I also include at least half a plate of non starchy vegetables (a key part to a healthy meal) and a serve of wholefood carbohydrate.
Using these as my basis, I then use Bite to plan out some of my meals for the week.
Here’s how I have planned my meals on Bite:
- To start off, I either look under the set categories, such as easy chicken dinners or fish recipes and find my inspiration. You can look for different ethnic flavours depending on what you like and feel like for the week ahead.
2. Or I’ll search by ingredient. Once you’ve picked your main ingredient, you can also go on to filter further. For example you can select special dietary needs such as gluten free or dairy free, select dinner recipes, and if you want you can also select recipes in this category from your favourite cook.
3. Adding a meal to my favourites
As soon as I see a recipe I like, I hit the favourite button (that wee heart you can see in the bottom right corner) and it saves it to your favourites. You can set up different collections for your favourites, so you can set up different meal planners, for example “Meal planning – September” or “Mexican recipes”.
4. Making a shopping list
Bite also has a function where you can add a recipe ingredients to a shopping list. You can then either email it to yourself, print it or you can copy and paste it to edit out things you already have at home. I emailed mine to myself, then used my phone at the supermarket to check this and grab what I needed.
So for the week ahead, I’ve got everything I need and my recipes sorted! Meal planning really is important for healthy eating and also saving money on food as we all know the more times you pop back, the more money you spend!
To start your own Bite account you can join up here, it’s free and easy to use to create your own meal plans.
This post was made possible by Bite. All opinions are my own, and Bite is a website that I truly enjoy using.