Meet the Meal Planner: Mama Owl

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Meet the Meal Planner is a new feature on At Home With Mrs M, designed to introduce everyone to the people who get involved with Meal Planning Monday each week.  This is each meal planners chance to tell us who they are, why and how they meal plan. I hope you enjoy this new item and feel free to leave a comment for the meal planner below!

Hi there and welcome to Meet the Meal Planner! It’s great to have you here. Lets start by introducing yourself. Please tell us a little more about who you are and all about your blog. (If you have one!)

Hello! I’m Julie and I blog at MamaOwl.co.uk. I’m a married mum to five and I like to share our story through my blog with posts about daily life, parenting, travel and days out, school, recipes, book reviews, autism, and much more besides.

Lets get down to business. I’d like to know how long you have been meal planning for and what inspired you to start?

I started in around May 2011, in a bid to save money as well as organise our home life a bit better. With five kids it can be chaotic at the best of times, so knowing what I am making for dinner at the end of a busy day just takes out that unnecessary faff of digging through cupboards deciding on what to have. It also saves us money (and reduces waste) because I’m only buying what I need and plan to use.

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It’s time to start writing your meal plan for the week. What do you do first? Talk us through your planning.

First, I have a wander around the kitchen, making a note of what I already have in the cupboards, fridges, and freezer. Then I set myself up at the computer with my notepad (and a cuppa), open a new post on my blog ready to write my meal plan, and then open up the supermarket website in another tab & get my delivery slot booked.

I look back at what we had the week before so it doesn’t get too ‘samey’ and also consult the family before I make any concrete decisions, and then I’ll look through the supermarket special offers (making use of BOGOFs & multibuys where I can) before I start to plan. I also have to take into account what activities we’re doing on what day – for example, choosing something I can make in the slow cooker on after-school club/swimming/Tae Kwon-do day to save my sanity!

Where do you find your meal-planning inspiration? Do you have a list of go-to meals or do you like to get creative and mix it up?

I look at what offers are on at the supermarket and then I consult my favourite cookbooks and recipes on my blog to see what I can make with it. We do have our family favourites and go-to meals for busy nights but occasionally we give something new a try.

What cookbooks do you use the most?  Is there a website resource you would recommend to other meal-planners?

I really love my Family Kitchen Cookbook by Caroline Bretherton, it’s a fantastic resource – I call it my kitchen bible! Loads of good ideas and recipes. The BBC Good Food website is another favourite of mine, and supermarket websites are pretty good for ideas these days, too.

So you’ve got your meal plan ready…do you ever go off-plan or do you always stick to it rigidly?

Some nights we end up not really fancying whatever it is that is planned for that night, so we swap around to another night’s meal. Occasionally (rarely) we do just treat ourselves to a takeaway, but we will save the ingredients we didn’t end up using for the following week, so nothing is wasted.

What benefits have you seen from meal planning? Do you find it helps you to cut waste? Save money?

All of the above! Reducing waste, saving money, saving time, helping keep me organised, less stress – I honestly don’t know how I managed before I started meal planning. I’d be lost without it.

Any top tips for meal planning? 

Use supermarket offers to your advantage where you can and meal plan around them, and always look in your stores before you shop so you know what you already have waiting to be used!

And finally, purely because I am nosey, what kitchen utensil/gadget could you just not live without?

My slow cooker! That thing is worth its weight in gold!

Thanks to Julie for sharing her meal planning tips. Why not head over to her blog and find out what she’s been up to recently.

I’ll be back with another Meet the Meal Planner really soon! If you’re interested in being featured, get in touch!

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