Is meal planning something you struggle with? Well you’re definitely not alone!
Whenever I talk to Stonesoup readers about their biggest cooking problems, meal planning it always near the top of the list.
Last minute changes in plans and chaotic schedules are some of the most common problems. As is the fact that meal plans often ‘fall apart’ because you don’t ‘feel like’ eating what you’d planned to cook that night.
Then there were the people who struggle to come up with new ideas and feel bored with their current meal routine. And running through all this was the costly problem of wasted ingredients and leftovers going bad and having to be thrown out.
What IS the No. 1 Meal Planning Mistake?
In a nutshell, it’s deciding what you’re going to cook in advance and then building your shopping list around that plan.
Having a list of set recipes or dishes is problematic for a number of reasons. First, it takes a lot of time to figure it all out in advance. But the biggest problem is the lack of flexibility to cope with the changes that naturally come up with modern life.
It’s nearly impossible to predict that Wednesday is going to be the coldest February day on record and you’ll be craving a comforting bowl of soup, rather than the cool & light salad you had in the meal plan.
No wonder meal plans tend to get broken.
How Do I Avoid This Mistake?
You just need to learn how to ‘reverse’ the process.
It may sound a little scary, but in practice it’s a really liberating way of approaching meal planning. And it’s actually much quicker and easier than traditional meal planning.
Shopping and cooking this way, based on what looks best, is a skill that anyone can learn which is why I wrote the ‘2-Minute Meal Plan’.
Speaking of which…
2 Minute Meal Plan eCookbook
It’s actually been 3 years since I first released the 2-Minute Meal Plan eBook. It’s easily the most unusual book that I’ve ever written in that it’s all about showing you the easiest way to ‘reverse’ your meal plan and cook with the ingredients you have on hand using ‘template recipes’.
This frees you from the constraints of shopping lists and traditional recipes while providing the support you need to get healthy meals on the table with minimum fuss or effort.
For more details go to:
Sweet Potato Hummus + Lamb Cutlets
Fergal just loves sweet potato so I find myself roasting up a batch pretty much every week. A nice side effect is that we often have roast sweet potato in the fridge which I’m finding makes it way into my cooking more and more! See below for tips for the easiest way to roast sweet potato.
enough for: 2
takes: 15 minutes
1 teaspoon each ground cumin, chilli, coriander & smoked paprika
6-8 lamb cutlets or other chops
250g roast sweet potato
2 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, peeled
green salad, to serve
big handful cherry tomatoes, halved
1. Combine spices with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium bowl. Season generously then toss in the lamb cutlets and allow to marinate for as long as you’ve got (if more than an hour cover and refrigerate).
2. For the hummus, whizz sweet potato, tahini, lemon and garlic in a food processor until you have a smooth paste or smash everything together with a fork. Taste and season with salt and maybe extra lemon or tahini.
3. Heat a frying pan or your BBQ on a medium high heat. Add lamb and cook for 3-4 minutes.
4. Turn the lamb and add the tomatoes and cook for another 3-4 minutes or until you’re happy.
5. To serve divide sweet potato hummus between two plates. Top with lamb and tomatoes and serve salad on the side.
to roast sweet potato – pop whole sweet potato (scrubbed but not peeled) on a baking tray. Roast in the oven 200C for about 45-60 minutes or until tender.
no roast sweet potato – use a drained can of chickpeas or white beans.
different spices – if you don’t have all of the spices just use any combo of the above – you want about 4 teaspoons or less. Or just use 1 teaspoon of the chilli.
vegetarian – pan fry the tomatoes with the spiced oil and serve a fried egg or two with the hummus with the spicy tomatoes on top.
vegan – replace lamb with field or portabello mushrooms. Marinate and cook as per the lamb might take a little longer. Sliced eggplant steaks are another great alternative.
not tomato season – skip them or use semi dried tomatoes.
lamb alternatives – try a good old steak, pork chops or even salmon fillets. The spices are also great with good quality sausages.