Life is chaotic and busy. Our expanding waistlines are a clear, outward sign of our reliance of fast food and takeaway amid the ‘busy-ness’ of family life.

We all seem to have less time to plan, prepare and cook family meals.

Self-professed List Writing Queen, Theresa Prior has developed a system to take the pain out of your weekly family menu planning and shopping list writing. In fact, she only writes menus and shopping lists four times a year – and that’s enough for 365 fresh, healthy, seasonal meals for her family.

At the start of each season, Theresa writes a four week family menu, along with the corresponding shopping lists. Her family then rotate that three times to get them through the season. No one minds repeating a meal three times, especially when it’s not every week!

‘It’s super easy’, says Theresa. ‘It’s a matter of following a few simple steps and being realistic about the time that you have’.

These steps include:

  • Plan a ‘typical’ week – what time each day can you commit to preparing and cooking a meal, or does it need to be cooked ahead of time on the weekend?
  • Vary the protein – regardless of whether you eat meat or not, plan for a variety of protein sources to help you better find the recipes (eg. Meat-free Monday, lamb Tuesday, white meat Wednesday, beef Thursday, fish Friday)
  • Find four healthy, nutrient packed (read = plenty of vegetables) meals for each protein source.
  • You’ll need at least 20 recipes. Dust off the recipe books at the back of the cupboard!
  • Keep the weekends flexible. Whatever days are your ‘weekend’, keep them flexible to allow for meals out, bbqs at home, etc. Theresa’s family negotiate the Saturday evening meal, and her daughter’s take turns to pick the Sunday night meal.
  • Start writing. Make a list of which meal you’ll eat on which day of the week. Transfer EVERY ingredient to that week’s shopping list (have four separate bits of paper – one shopping list for each week). It’s important to include every ingredient, as you never know which week you’ll need to replace the olive oil.
  • There you have it! Four week’s worth of family meals planned, and the shopping lists. Done. Simply repeat that three times to get you through the three months!

‘Going from something that used to take an hour a week, to an hour every three months’, says Theresa, ‘will give you more time to spend with your family’.

So use this time well and enjoy some family activities. Happy planning!

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