Gaby Chapman Stress Free Christmas Interview

Gaby Chapman Stress Free Christmas Interview

7 Meal Planning Tips for a Stress-Free Christmas

Meal Planning Expert, Gaby Chapman, from PlanBuyCook shares her stress free meal planning tips for Christmas.

PlanBuyCook meal planning app has over 130 tasty everyday recipes that can be scaled to match your household size. Plan simply, shop once, eat well: Dinner Done. For more information go to

Interview with Gaby Chapman and Jen Petrovic

Question: What are your top seven planning tips for a stress-free Christmas?

Gaby Chapman and Jen Petrovic:
1. Order any special food (e.g. seafood, ham on the bone) in advance to avoid lengthy Christmas eve queues
2. Move as much food prep to a day or two before Christmas – e.g. marinade meat, par boil potatoes for salad, make dessert
3. Serve quality not quantity – allow for 300g of protein total per person; three tasty salads
4. Salads taste best at room temperature, not straight from the refrigerator
5. Skip the pudding and make a pavlova or berry panettone dessert
6. Set the table the night before
7. Ask family and friends to bring containers to take home leftovers and prevent food waste

Question: What is PlanBuyCook?

Gaby Chapman: PlanBuyCook is a way to simplify your daily cooking using our meal planning app. The app helps you plan your meals in minutes. It auto generates a shopping list like magic, and sorts all items on your list by supermarket area. You can scale all the meals to match your household size, and even add your own favourite recipes. We provide weekly meal suggestions online, and tips and hints to make everyday cooking simple. The PlanBuyCook app is available for iPhone and iPad, and we have a website and social media channels for regular updates, recipes and inspiration.

Question: What inspired the idea of PlanBuyCook?

Jen Petrovic: It was Gaby, my business partner's idea. She was sick of operating in a state of chaos with the evening meal. She had run out of inspiration about what to cook and kept on running to the supermarket every few days for ingredients for meals for her family of five. As I'm a chef, I started to give her ideas on how to prepare food in advance and how to plan. She thought the tips and hints were really valuable and suggested we make an app to help solve the problems of busy people like her. It needed to have great recipes that were easy to cook, a tool to easily plan the meals and remind you of what you'd planned, and a shopping list you can cross off as you shop, that included everything you needed for the week, including household items like toothpaste and laundry detergent. We decided to make an app rather than a cookbook as it is far more useful, and is there in your hand rather than at home. You can plan wherever you are, and even share the meal plan with other household members.

Question: What are you serving this Christmas?

Gaby Chapman: As a chef, it is always up to me to do the cooking! There will only be six people at my family Christmas this year, so we don't do lots of separate dishes. I like to do a substantial canapé rather than lots of dips and nuts for starters, so we will be having caramelised onion and goats' cheese tarts. For mains I'll be doing a turkey breast with sage and onion stuffing, roast potatoes, and two salads: a caprese salad and a leaf salad. To finish I'll be serving a berry panettone dessert, which is nice on a hot Australian Christmas day.

Question: How do we save money and time by planning meals ahead?

Gaby Chapman: By taking ten minutes a week to plan what you will be cooking for the week, and shopping just once a week, you only buy the food you need for the week. We are wasting so much edible food that never gets eaten, and spending a lot of time in the supermarket – many people spend more time shopping than cooking! – so if we can save time and cook healthy food from scratch we will be far better off. Also, our app allows you to plan for meals out, leftovers and takeaway, so you plan for the way you live rather than buying food for meals that you are unlikely to cook that may go to waste.

Not having to think about what's for dinner on a daily basis also greatly reduces the mental load. You know what you are cooking and you have the food at home to make that meal, then it is simply a matter of cooking it. Once you get the hang of it and double freezable meals, you can also cut down on the number of times each week you need to cook a meal. Pulling a meal from your freezer is so much faster than ordering takeaway, and ultimately, cheaper and better for your overall health.

Question: What's next for PlanBuyCook?

Gaby Chapman: We will continue to offer new recipes and meal plans on our website and update the app with extra meals. We have built an online meal planning challenge to help people learn how to meal plan, and have also been delivering workshops locally to show how meal planning can help reduce food waste. We are looking to expand our reach into USA, Canada and the UK. Our app offers the ability to easily switch between metric and imperial measurements, as well as caters for the changes in names of ingredients between the US and Australia – e.g. rocket and arugula etc. We continue to look at ways to build more functionality into the PlanBuyCook app, and possibly offer our workshops online to a larger audience. Who knows where it will take us?

Interview by Brooke Hunter