Meal Planning Tips for the New Year
Starting fresh in January is always so satisfying. If your resolutions include being more organised, trying new foods and reducing food waste – all while smashing your slimming goals – you’re in the right place! We’ve put together some easy-to-follow hints and tips that’ll make getting breakfasts, lunches, dinners and desserts on the table throughout 2023 as effortless as possible.
With a copy of our latest Family Meal Planner in hand, getting organised for the year ahead becomes easier than ever. Along with week-by-week meal planning pages, space for pull-out shopping lists and the NEW fantastic freezer-tracker, you’ll also find 26 planner-exclusive recipes inside.
From Breakfast Quesadillas to Beef and Spring Onion Chow Mein, these aren’t just slimming-friendly dishes; they’re top notch crowd-pleasers that’ll have the whole family racing to the table for a bite.
You can order a fresh planner to start the new year with here.
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1. Take stock and fill in your freezer tracker
Once you’ve got your Family Meal Planner at the ready, the best place to start forming a weekly meal plan is at home. Taking stock of what you’ve already got in the fridge, freezer and kitchen cupboards isn’t just good for watching your budget, it’ll help to reduce food waste too.
Getting to know your freezer like a best friend is one of the most cost effective moves you can make in the new year. Thanks to our freezer-tracker, you’ve got all the space you need to take note of your freezer’s contents for up to 3 months.
With the freezer-tracker at your fingertips everytime you hit the shops, you’re far less likely to buy foods you don’t need or miss out on using leftovers that need eating.
By adding the date of freezing to every batch-cooked meal that works its way into your drawers, you’ll always know what needs eating next and when. The general consensus is that you can keep food frozen for up to 6 months, although after 3 it may begin losing flavour (we strongly advise referring to the official NHS guidelines if you’re ever unsure).
If you find that you’ve got stray mushrooms lying about, you might want to raid your store cupboard to see if you’ve got Marmite on hand too.
As a combination, these two unassuming ingredients work magic in the pan; add a dollop of cream cheese and you’ve got the rich, savoury silkiness of our hugely popular Marmite Mushrooms on Toast.
You can find even more tips for getting the most out of leftovers here.
2. Pick a meal-planning day
By allocating a set day for planning each week, it’s far more likely to become a habit that you can stick to. While it can be tempting to throw meal plans out when you’ve got a busy week, those hectic times are exactly when they’re most important. Planning and preparing batch-cook basics that you can grab from the fridge or re-use in multiple ways is a great way to avoid reaching for more expensive, convenient options.
Filling your plan with dreamy dinners like our Chilli Pasta Bake is a great way to start. It’s always delicious, but we can’t deny that it tastes even better the second time round.
There’s nothing to stop you dedicating an afternoon to batch-cooking a number of crowd-pleasing dinners. You can load up your freezer-safe tupperware for the days ahead, and you’ll be able to mix things up so that you stay motivated.
Assigning themes like ‘curry night’, ‘pasta night’ and ‘meat-free night’ to certain days of the week is a handy trick that’ll narrow down your choices and make planning even faster.
3. Always go to the shops with a list
In our Family Meal Planner, each week begins with space to plan breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks before you go shopping. We’ve made sure our shopping list pages are nice and easy to pull out, so that you can take them on the go without having to carry the full planner (although you can if you want to, it’s a pocket-friendly size!).
With a list that’s written with your meal plan, what’s in the freezer, and other ingredients you might have at home in mind, you’re far less likely to buy foods that you don’t need.
When you’re making tasty recipes from our website, don’t forget to sign in to your website account. As a website member you can save all of your favourite recipes in folders, and name them to suit you (we feel a ‘tasty breakfasts’ folder coming on!).
If you don’t have an account already, you can register here.
4. Pay attention to crowd-pleasers
Once your meal plan gets going, you’ll start to figure out what does (and doesn’t!) go down a treat. It’s useful to take a note of which dishes leave plates wiped sparkling clean, as you’ll be able to build up a bank of key ingredients you know you’ll be able to use time and again.
Tinned chopped tomatoes are a guaranteed winner for us each week. We use them to add low-calorie richness to sauces in pasta dishes, risottos and chillies.
After our epic Meatball Lasagne has gone down a storm (and trust us, it will!), you’ll know to make it a regular staple on your midweek menu.
Involving everyone else that you’re cooking for in your plan is always a good idea; if you know you’re putting food on the table that everyone wants in front of them, sticking to the plan and smashing those goals gets even easier.
You can find many more five-star dishes in our latest cookbook, Pinch of Nom: Enjoy.
5. Plan snacks too!
One of our biggest tips for the year ahead is to plan for when you’re feeling snackish. When you hit a mid-afternoon lull or you’re just plain hangry, slimming-friendly nibbles that’ll curb your cravings without taking you off track are a must.
If you know that you’re most likely to be tempted by something sweet, you’ll be glad that you rustled up a batch of our Double Choc Chip Cookies. These chocolatey, tupperware-friendly rounds are the perfect accompaniment to a cuppa when you need a pick-me-up, and they’ll keep nicely until you’re ready to enjoy them.
At only 40 calories per biscuit, they’re better for you (and your budget) than nipping out for a shop-bought version.
You can find the full recipe on page 103 of your Family Meal Planner.
Most of us tend to give in to that snacky feeling when we’re curled up on the sofa watching telly at night. We’ve got plenty of evening snack ideas you can try out here.
6. Have fun
Having fun is the most important part of putting together any meal plan. Our Family Meal Planner comes with dedicated space (and fun stickers!) for you to celebrate your slimming wins, big or small.
When you’re not having fun and enjoying what you eat, it becomes ten times harder to reach where you want to be. If you’re on the lookout for even more recipes that are sure to impress friends and family, our latest cookbook – Pinch of Nom: Enjoy – has you covered (you can order your copy here!).
Time to get ahead and get organised for the new year!
Nothing brings us more joy than seeing you use our planner to smash your slimming goals! Have you checked out our tips on how to get the most from your Family Meal Planner?
Don’t forget that you can share your filled-in planner pages with our Facebook group, where we have almost 1 million members waiting to support you on your slimming journey.
When it comes to sharing hints, tips, quotes and photos, our PON Gallery is a hotspot you need to visit. We never get bored of scrolling through the submissions from our incredible community. To say thank you, we’ll even dish out Pinch of Nom swag at random from time to time.