By now, you’ve likely heard the bad news.
On 31st October, the government announced that the UK will go into a second period of lockdown. At the moment, this is intended to last for one month before we can start going back to the new normal again. However, it also comes at a time when many are already struggling with the many restrictions that we’re facing.
We hope that the first lockdown has prepared you for what’s to come. But we also know that many of the struggles that people are already dealing with will be magnified by this new lockdown period.
This is especially the case when it comes to preparing food for your family.
Lockdown creates added pressures on families that are looking to create healthy and affordable meal plans. That’s why we’ve come up with a few tips to help you along as we enter what will likely be a difficult time for many.
Tip #1 – Lists Are Your Friend
We all know that shopping is a hassle in the new normal so you want to spend as little time wandering around supermarkets as possible. That’s why lists are your friend whenever you venture out for a shopping trip.
Start with a weekly schedule where you map out all of the meals that you intend to create for the family. Obviously, you’ll account for breakfast, lunch, and dinner here. However, it’s also worth coming up with some snack ideas that can fill the cravings between major meals.
Once you have that list of meals, break each down into its core ingredients. Create a list of these ingredients and you have your shopping list for the next trip to the supermarket.
This may sound like a simple tip, but it means you get to avoid that irritating realisation that you’ve forgotten something important when you’re out shopping.
Tip #2 – Try Out Some New Ideas
It’s tempting to stick with your old favourites during lockdown. You know how to make them and you know that they will do the job. However, a month of eating the same meals over and over again is sure to start feeling boring. And as strange as it may sound, sticking to such a rigid meal routine could lead to resentment growing in the household.
That’s why it’s a good idea to use this lockdown period as an opportunity to experiment. Check out a few recipes that you haven’t tried yet online and mark them down in your schedule. Perhaps you could have one day of the week reserved for a surprise meal that your family hasn’t sampled yet.
Of course, you’re worried about what might happen if you don’t get it right. If that’s the case, it always helps to have a simple back-up plan to increase your confidence. A healthy supply of Najma’s halal chilled meats will ensure you always have simple meals to fall back on if your experiment goes awry.
Tip #3 – Make Fresh a Priority (But Keep Frozen Stuff as a Backup)
This is one of the biggest tips because we’ve already seen how difficult it is to stick to a fresh meal plan during lockdown. It’s far too easy to just buy frozen food because that means you always have something stored and ready to go.
But for us, frozen foods are a backup for the healthier meal options that you should aim to create.
Make fresh food a priority in your meal plans. By this, we mean planning your meals around the different foods that you buy so that none of them go to waste. Consider how long you can store each food before using it and try not to end up in a situation where you have a ton of fresh food that ends up in the garbage because you haven’t used it.
Tip #4 – Get the Family Involved
Worried that your family won’t enjoy the meal ideas that you’ve come up with?
You can eliminate that fear by getting them involved. This is a particularly great idea if you have younger children, as they’re going to enter another period where they’re wondering why they’re not able to do the things that they want to do.
Getting them involved in meal planning means you get to give them a little bit of choice during a period of their lives when they might start to feel like they have none. Of course, this doesn’t mean the kids get carte blanche to choose whatever meals they think of. You can’t spend seven days a week eating chocolate and ice cream for dinner, after all. Instead, you could perhaps create a list of three or four ideas for each meal you schedule and have your kids pick their favourites.
Tip #5 – Choose a Leftovers Day
There are so many meals that you can create that end up leaving you with leftovers. That’s okay because it means you can schedule a day in your meal plan for the leftovers.
This is a great way for cutting down on food waste. Even if you’re eating everything that you cook, it’s likely that you have partially used ingredients in the fridge and cupboards. Use this as a chance to get creative and start thinking of ways to use those leftovers in other dishes. This is another great way to get the family involved in meal planning. For example, if you set Thursday as your leftovers day, you can gather everything you have and come up with some ideas with your family as to how to use it.
The Final Word
There’s no denying that the next month (at least) will be a difficult time for you and your family. In truth, 2020 has been a difficult year that’s forced so much change into our lives.
But with these tips, you can at least feel secure that your meal planning won’t go to pot during the second lockdown. And with Najma’s chilled halal meats in your fridge, you will always have great food ready to go, no matter how well your planning sessions go.