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

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Roast chicken with potatoes and vegetablesMake chicken stock with the carcuss Pea and courgette risotto with saladUse 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