Meet the Meal Planner – Mental Parentals

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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!)

Hi! I’m Steph, a 27 year old Mother of a beautiful 3 year old boy, O, and wife to A.  I love food, music, singing and dancing as well as spending time with my amazing family.  I also work full time, love and care for my family and run a house that is  quite clearly too big for us.  I blog over at http://www.mentalparentals.com where I discuss parenting and lifestyle topics and share my life experiences, family moments to make memories and, of course, my meal plans!

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Steph & her lovely family!

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

I’ve been meal planning since O was around 5 months old.  Before pregnancy, I could pretty much eat what I liked and maintain my figure as I did *a lot* of dancing.  I fell pregnant and was so scared that my prancing and jumping about would harm the baby in some way, so took it easy from day one.  I gained weight during pregnancy as I used it as an excuse to eat out more, gorge on chocolate and takeaways…  I see now that this was a silly thing to do!  It just makes life after-birth harder!  Anyway, 5 months after O’s birth, I decided it was time to attempt to get out of the maternity clothes and back to my old self.  I followed a well-known weight management plan and started meal planning to save on pennies – Maternity Leave doesn’t pay well!

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

I look through my diary to find out what our plans are.  Am I planning for 7 days of meals for 2 adults and a child?  More often than not, my husband (A) works away or goes out for dinner with colleagues.  I then have a quick look in the fridge and freezer to see what we already have and plan to use those first if possible.

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 have a list of go-to quick recipes that are ideal for making after a day at work.  I try to dish up healthy, nutritious meals for my family; although there are days where O doesn’t, or won’t, entertain what we have planned.  I do try to get creative and mix it up a bit, using cook book recipes as a base and using my tastes to create something else.

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

I really enjoy Hairy BIker’s recipes as they’re fairly easy to follow and make.  I also buy recipe magazines for more seasonal recipes.

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

We do go off-plan sometimes – I don’t have the willpower I once had!  Now I’m back to working full-time, we do have a little extra money to go for a takeaway or a bar meal.  We do try to stick to the plan though, it helps with maintaining our monthly budget and aids our plight of content with our physical appearance and health.

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

I like to be organised.  I like to know what I’m cooking when I get home from work, so that I’m not staring into the fridge for 10 minutes with no inspiration whatsoever.  Meal planning is great to save money – buying in bulk and planning meals to use similar ingredients is one way this can be beneficial.

Any top tips for meal planning?

Get a good bank of recipes that you’re happy with.  Make a list of the things you need to take with you to the supermarket or to use when shopping online.  Only plan meals that you like to cook and eat – if you don’t enjoy a recipe, you won’t make it!

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

My husband bought a cast iron recipe book stand as a Christmas gift for me a couple of years ago.  It’s utterly beautiful and I wouldn’t be without it!

Thanks to Steph 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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