Meal Planning for Two: A guide for smaller families

To me, a meal plan is key to keeping a household running, and keeping a iron grip on finances. A meal plan, whether it’s for a week, two weeks, or a month can keep food costs low and keep your family happy and healthy.

My family currently only consists of me and my (soon-to-be!) Husband. This smaller family can pose challenges when meal planning, it can result in eating the same things over and over. Since it’s well known that buying in bulk can save you money in the long run, it tends to benefit larger families (Jamerrill’s Large Family Table anyone? She’s amazing at budgeting and managing a household of 10!). With this in mind, I only buy what we need for the week (or two weeks, sometimes I batch cook), and some pantry essentials. Just in case we don’t want what’s planned in on that particular night.

meal plan title image

Where to Start

1) Check what you already have

Before starting to plan meals for the week, it’s essential to look in your pantry, fridge and freezer to see what you already have in stock. It’d be pointless buying a couple of extra cans of tomatoes for a recipe you’ve planned in… Only to find 6 in the cupboard.

Checking stock also serves a purpose for planning meals based on what you have, and to keep track of essential items. Essential items for my family include tins of baked beans, eggs, lentils, and cans of kidney beans. This may be different for you, depending on what your family like to eat, and what you like to cook.

A meal plan based on what you already have saves money, and reduces food waste. For example, say you have some garlic, a broccoli, and some quinoa in. From these ingredients, you could make a hearty Broccoli Quinoa Casserole (this is one of my favourite versions, with the chicken changed to a meat substitute).

2) Keep a stock of essential items

Essential items can vary depending on the family. There are loads of articles and blog posts out there which list cooking essentials; such as oil, salt and pepper. However, it’s good to think about what your family eat on a weekly basis, and have a few pantry items to whip up if you don’t fancy what you have planned on the calendar. It also helps in case you have an unexpected visitor, or get late back from work one night. Our family’s pantry essentials are:

  • Baked Beans
  • Eggs
  • Kidney Beans
  • Lentils (dry and canned)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Salad tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Pasta

Over the years we’ve been living together, we’ve built up a store of regularly used dried herbs and spices too.

From the above list, you may be able to see that we can whip up a few meals without really thinking too hard. For example, a lentil chilli, or Baked potato with beans and salad. Just quick, no-fuss meals for when you’re tired or don’t want what you’ve planned. However, it’s important to try and incorporate each of these ingredients, particularly fresh, into your meal plan to reduce the amount of food waste. In the UK, households throw away £13bn of food a year . 

3) Think about what your family currently eat

If you go ahead with meal planning, think about what your family currently eat. If your family like to eat burgers on a Wednesday, keep that as burger Wednesday. If your family like having pizza takeout on Fridays, think about how you could incorporate this into your budget; you could try cooking pizzas from scratch, or keep a couple of pizzas in the freezer for lazy days.

If you want to try new recipes, you could have one day a week, or every two weeks where you try something new. If it works for you, great! if it doesn’t, then you don’t have to cook it again. Don’t try to meal plan 5 new meals in a week, take it slowly, building up a vault of recipes you know and love first.

4) Make your Meal Plan easy to see

It’s great having a meal plan, but even better if it’s somewhere everyone can see it! My friend bought me a meal planner/shopping planner list for my birthday. It’s great because it has magnets on the back, meaning it can be stuck to the fridge where everyone can see, and everyone can use.

Here’s a photo of it in pride of place:

meal plan fridge magnet

As you can see it’s a work in progress, but it’s in a place where it’s readable, accessible and regularly viewed.

5) Remember, Meal Plans aren’t set in stone

As we all know, life happens. Sometimes you might get home late from work. Other times you end up going out for a meal. When this happens, don’t fret! Either swap the day you went off plan, for example if you had pizza on Wednesday instead of Friday. Or, think of a way you could incorporate your extra ingredients into another meal. Meal planning should be a guide to helping you plan for enjoyable, low-cost healthy meals, rather than a strict regime.

 

Comment below how you plan your meals, and what go-to recipes do you use week-after-week!

 

Have a lovely day,

Charis

How I’m planning to be successful this year

Taking a leaf out of Kimmy from She’s in her apron, this year I want to ‘Be’ in all aspects of my life in 2018. Whether that’s being present for my Husband-to-be, or being successful with My Project self. I’d just like to ‘Be’.

be successful goals blog

Professional Goals

I’ve already covered this in a previous blog post, but the outline of this is that I want to increase my outreach. I’d like to be creating a newsletter, or dipping into creating YouTube videos… I could be a YouTuber by the end of the year!

Also, I’d like to create a mailing list and interact with similar blogs across the internet. I’d like to actually be contributing to the community if you will.

Furthermore, I had a major setback in 2017, unfortunately I lost my job. So this year I’d like to find a job or, failing that, go back to University to study for a Master’s degree. Initially I wanted to take a year out to develop my career, which it has been nearly two years. I’m ready to get back to education I think.

Personal Goals

As mentioned in another post, I’ve been practising learning German, I love languages and think it’s wonderful to be able to communicate globally. So I’d like to continue learning, with a view to be fluent (not within the space of a year, mind).

Another personal goal I’d like to achieve this year in learning the basics of writing Javascript, I think this would form the basis to a successful blog, if I understand the workings. For this, I’ve been using a website called codecadamey, which has a range of free courses all to do with computing skills.

Lastly, I’d like to lose the Christmas weight and then some, further posts to follow on that one!

Goals for the Home

In 2018 I’d also like to make some home improvements, my partner and I have been living in our current house for two years, but still have the previous owner’s décor. I’d like to make the place our own this year and finish decorating.

I’d also like to be more consistent with meal planning and cleaning schedules. Currently I make a meal plan, don’t stick to it and end up with a bunch of ingredients that don’t go together at the end of the week. The same also goes for consistent cleaning, I have a schedule printed and pinned up in the kitchen (ha!) but don’t seem to be sticking to it well at all.

 

So, the overall summary of this is that I’d like to get organized, be involved in my life and get on with it!

Let me know what your goals for 2018 are!

Have a lovely day,

Charis

How I was inspired to create new goals

My Goals

I’ve already been working on a few things, somewhat sticking to my New Year’s resolutions; I’m currently working on:

  1. Saving enough money to cover my wedding & honeymoon
  2. Following a healthier lifestyle
  3. Reading more

So far these are going great, my partner and I are saving regularly and not going overboard with wedding spends; I’m getting quite into my walking at the moment; and I’ve read 3 books so far this year (I know, that’s a low number for some, I just couldn’t find a book I liked enough to keep reading).

My Inspiration

I recently watched a TED talk which inspired me to set some new goals and create this blog (give it a watch/listen if you like!).

To outline the TED talk, it says ‘If you want to try something new, or create a new habit, try it for 30 days’ meaning that you work on it every day for 30 days; if you find it boring, or a drag after the 30 days, then stop and try something else. Its’ best example was writing a novel, you could write a novel in 30 days, it may not be the best story you’ve ever written, but you’ll be able to call yourself a novelist.

From this, I’ve been able to set some smaller, more manageable goals; I love languages and have always wanted to be able to speak another one, not just English. So, after being inspired by this talk, I have been using Duolingo consistently for 23 days and honestly I am thoroughly enjoying it! This will definitely be something I’ll keep doing.

Once those 30 days are up, I’ll be uploading a post on what things I want to try for 30 days, and reviewing my 30 days of language learning.

I’ll keep you posted,

Catch up with you soon,

Charis

Stationery essentials when starting a new project

Since this is a new blog, it’s given me the perfect excuse to buy all-new stationery! I love using brand new notepads, pens and paper to plan a new project, it’s like a fresh start; a new page in a book (if you’ll pardon the pun). To start off on the right foot, I think the following items of stationery are essential if you’re starting a new project and want to get organised:

  1. A Diary
  2. A small notebook
  3. A special pen/set of pens
  4. Sticky notes
  5. A new folder

I’ll be using these to not only keep on top of things here at My Project Self, but also everyday goings-on. Creating a life planner for myself, if you will.

A Diary

I’ve decided to go with a small 18-month Moleskine diary;  it’s on the pricier side of diaries, but because the diary started from when I set up ‘My Project Self’ – it’s perfect.

In my Moleskine diary, one page is dedicated to being a diary, to put in appointments etc. Whereas, the opposite page is just lined paper, perfect for writing ideas and other useful information down.

Another diary I’d recommend are ones by a company by ‘Dodopad‘. Their designs are a little quirky, they include jokes & quotes on every week page, and they encourage users to doodle all over the book

A set of pens you like to use 

For my diary I have chosen four pens to colour code tasks, to-do’s, ideas and miscellaneous. I need to set up a method of tracking these writings so I thought colour coding would be the best place to start. Just need to find a way to record and use the info…

Here’s a picture of the pens I use, next to the diary for scale (fun note, the pens are placed in order of preference, you can’t go wrong with a good rollerball pen!)

Sticky notes 

Sticky notes-wise I’ve still not settled on a set I like, I was thinking of going fancy with a fun design from ‘Paperchase’, or just simply some small colour-coded sticky notes (I will update in a future stationery post).

A new folder

I’m not talking ring binders or lever arch, I’m talking digital. I think it’s essential to set up a good filing system for new projects to keep your files organised and reduce information clutter. Personally, I prefer digital folders in cloud storage over paper; files are accessible virtually anywhere and can be edited with ease (you’re unlikely to be caught out without that vital file or piece of information).

Let me know if you want to see how I use cloud storage to organise my files/life

However, if you’re more traditional, a personal planner may be for you; & if you’re also into blogging there are loads of free printable blog planners out there to help you either get started or get organised.

 

How do you organise your projects? 

 

Have a lovely day,

Charis

My Wedding Plans

 

So, as mentioned in my Introductions & Hello’s, I’m getting married!!

The wedding will be taking place in Spring this year, so plenty of time to save and get some crafty bits done. We’re on a fairly tight budget with it at the moment, and we’re looking to have quite a long honeymoon; the less we can spend on the wedding the better!

So, the plan is to DIY as many things as possible; I’m planning to DIY the flowers for the wedding (we’ll be using artificial, they can be kept as a keepsake), table/room decorations, seating plan, invitations and place cards. I want to try and keep the flowers and decorations as simple as possible because of this, it can quickly get out of control money-wise, at which point you may as well have rented the decorations and bought fresh flowers.

I’ve been browsing Pinterest for inspo on flowers and I think I’ve found what I’d like: Lavender, Pink Peonies and White Lilies; button holes will be a couple of stems of Lavender with gold glitter ribbon to hold them together. Simple yet effective.

Table decoration-wise I’m not quite decided, I was thinking of simply putting some candles with glitter around the bottom on a mirror charger plate and calling it a day, but I’ll have to have a closer look at this. The same goes for seating plan and place cards.

As for the invitations, between myself and my fiance, we decided to use Vistaprint; they had the perfect design for the theme we’re going for and it meant we didn’t have to spend hours choosing a design, making the invitations and then post them out to everyone. We simply chose the design, customised the text to our requirements and have them ready to send out to our guests.

Onto the bridesmaids

On a slightly more organised note, I have already bought the bridesmaid’s dresses. They were only off eBay, but are lovely quality. The same for the accessories, gold waist belts at £3 a pop, can’t really argue with that.

All three of my lovely friends are wearing purple dresses; two are wearing a more lilac colour and one more of an aubergine (don’t quote me on these colours, I’m not particularly good at describing them!)

That’s all the DIY plans I have so far, I’ll keep you updated as and when things change, other than that I just have to let the time pass and enjoy the ride on the way. Please feel welcome to share your ideas & suggestions in the comments!

Have a lovely day,

Catch up with you soon,

Charis

A blog about self-improvement: Introducing My Project Self

The change of a year often brings up thoughts of ‘How can I make a change this year?’. It’s also a time for reflection, with a view to self-improvement.

My Project Self was born out of a need for self-improvement; I’m using this blog as a way to share with the world my passion for improvement & progress. Whether that is improvement in a craft/skill (say, crochet; which I love), home improvements or in terms of striving towards a healthier and happier life.

As the saying goes, and I believe, that You’re never too old to learn something’. Also that working towards ‘progress’ rather than ‘perfection’ is better than not trying at all.

self-improvement blog

About Me

My name is Charis and I’m a twenty-something, pet parent with Big Hairy Audacious Goals; Living in Yorkshire.

I’m currently planning & saving for my wedding in May (to my Big Hairy Audacious Man).

Also I’m Learning a language, teaching myself to code, mentally redecorating my home… the list continues.

Watch this space for a post about my New Years Resolutions, I’ve already written one about my goals for this blog here ; grab a warm beverage & maybe a few biscuits for that one, it could be a biggie!

I love self-improvement, I think it’s a really great practice. Self-improvement can help you find your hobby, find your passions or help you find what you’re good at when you’re feeling a little lost or overwhelmed (we’ve all been there!).

I hope you’ll enjoy my updates on learning to live a happier, healthier life and the little and large projects I’ll be sharing. Please feel free to comment if you have any questions, or if you have some hints and tips to share!

Check in with you soon,

Have a lovely day!

Charis