Meal Planning

Jump to: Portion Sizes - Cooking with Leftovers

Meal planning is asking the ‘what’s for dinner’  question once for the whole week, instead of every night.

Planning your meals, preparing a shopping list and prepping the ingredients before cooking are great ways to reduce food waste and save you time and money.

Planning your meals
  • Have a look at your calendar for the coming week to check when you’ll be home
  • Think about what meals you’d like to cook and write down the ingredients you’ll need
  • Opt for ingredients that can be used in more than one meal
  • Consider whether you can refrigerate or freeze extra portions to reheat later.
Shopping for ingredients
  • Write down your shopping list before you head to the shops and don’t forget to take it with you 
  • Check what you already have in your pantry, fridge and freezer before you go
  • Look at the use by and best before dates and make sure you’ll be able to use it in time
  • Only buy in bulk if you have enough room at home to store it correctly.
Prepping your meals
  • Batch cook meals you plan to eat more than once and refrigerate or freeze for use later on
  • You may like to set aside time one night a week to prep and cook your meals for the week ahead
  • Ensure you make the correct portions for the amount of people eating the meal
  • Divide portions into containers ahead of time so you can grab and go.

Portion Sizes

Cooking too much is one of the main reasons we waste food. Preparing the right amount of food will reduce food waste and save you money. It also has the added benefit of looking after your waistline!

Cooking the right portions

A good way to gauge appropriate portion size without any measuring tools is by simply using your hands. Tailor your serving size to the size of each person’s hands.

  • Rice, pasta, potatoes and legumes = one clenched fist (equivalent to one cup)
  • Meat poultry and other proteins = size and thickness of your palm
  • Fish = whole of your hand
  • Vegetables = two cupped hands

Serving sizes on packets are also good guides.

Getting your serving sizes right

Use a dinner plate as a guide by dividing it into sections based on different food groups:

  • Vegetables or salad = half a plate
  • Protein including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, tofu, beans and pulses = a quarter of a plate
  • Complex carbs such as whole grains and starchy vegetables = a quarter of a plate.

Please note these are guidelines only as you may have special dietary requirements or different preferences.

Cooking with Leftovers

Don’t let good food go to waste — get creative with your leftovers instead! 

Create leftovers purposefully
  • If you prepare twice the vegetables you’ll need for tonight’s dinner, you’ll have the starting point for a stir fry, curry or pasta later in the week 
  • Cook twice as much rice as you need and freeze the extra for use over the next couple of weeks
  • Anticipate using leftover roast chicken on sandwiches
  • Keep a portion of your dinner and pack it for lunch the next day
  • Dedicate one night a week to eating the leftovers in your fridge.
Reimagine your leftovers into delicious new meals
  • Make a salad, soup, casserole, stir fry, curry or stew with any leftover ingredients
  • Turn extra eggs and cooked vegetables into a frittata or omelette
  • Create burritos or tacos with leftover cooked rice, meat and vegetables 
  • Have a ‘make your own pizza’ night and use up the extra bits of meat, vegetables and cheese
  • Blend cooked vegetables with a can of whole tomatoes and create your own pasta sauce
  • Make healthy juices with leftover fruit
  • Turn your stale bread into croutons
  • Use vegetable scraps to make stock.