To Meal Plan Or Not To Meal Plan, That Is The Question

empty_fridge4Have you ever struggled with what to feed your family for dinner? Have you stood in front of the pantry, head cocked to the side, at 6:30 pm trying to figure out what you can make with peanut butter and tuna fish? You may be in this situation right now. Are you, even now, reading this post in an effort to avoid going into the kitchen, opening up the fridge, and trying to put something edible on the table?

“What’s for dinner? I’m starving to death! When are we eating?”

Would you believe even now, with lives becoming more and more hectic and schedules getting more and more busy, that there are still some people who don’t make meal plans? But before you think that I am judging you and your situation,  realize the unfortunate truth – that a majority of Americans are in this same boat.

“But, I don’t have the time.”

Ask any weight loss expert or health coach, entrepreneur, organizational guru, or personal growth expert and they will tell you that meal planning is absolutely essential. Not only will you will save money by not eating out, but when you make it a habit to plan meals, you will get more efficient at grocery shopping by the simple virtue of having a list of everything you need before you go the supermarket or grocery. No more wandering down the aisles searching for what looks good. The average family can save up to $60 a week by cooking at home. You’ll also be making healthier meals (unless you’re buying box food at the store), and you’ll know exactly what you’re putting into your family’s bodies. You will save time in the evenings because you will have taken all the guess work out of dinner.

Meaning, meal planning is a fundamental key to budgeting, time saving, and cuts down on hectic decision making at 6:30 pm when you’re already starving.

With all these benefits, how could you not MAKE the time?

When it comes to dinner time, you need a plan. And making a plan doesn’t have to be difficult. Although, by the number of websites out there designed around creating made-for-you meal plans, you might think it was rocket science. =O

Here’s the thing. There’s no need in putting things on your meal plan or on your grocery list that you aren’t going to eat. Don’t put salad on the list for lunch, if you don’t like salad, go out to lunch more often than not, or don’t have a refrigerator at work. If you do that, you’ll be planning to fail. There are no rules here, only guidelines. Work with what you’ve got!

So take a few minutes while you are waiting for little Johnny to get out of Kung Fu class and ask yourself these question:

  • What are the kinds of things that you and your family like to eat? Even if the first two things you think of are pizza and hamburgers, this is a start.
  • What veggies do they like? If they don’t like any – what veggies are you likely to be able to sneak in? Veggies can be hidden in soups and smoothies, and even breads and muffins (carrot cake? zucchini bread?)
  • Are there recipes that you particularly like to make? For example, I love chili. I probably make a batch once a week. And before you ask if I get bored with it, No, I don’t. Because it’s never the same. Each week, each batch tastes different because I vary the ingredients based on what I have on  hand, and what’s on sale.
  • Are there recipes that you can make in larger batches and eat multiple times during the week? Or incorporate leftovers into a whole new meal? When I make chili, I make enough for three full meals worth. Some I store in the freezer, but it’s an easy meal to take for lunch, or to reheat quickly. Other meals, like stirfrys leftovers, can quickly be transformed into frittatas that can be eaten as dinner, or saved for brunch on the weekend.
  • Are there specific nights of the week that are more hectic than others? In my house, we have chore night. On chore night, I don’t have extra time to spend in the kitchen. So chore night is almost automatically a ‘reheat’ night.
  • Are there any recipes that you know or would like to try that are super-quick and could be pulled out at the last minute? 

Gather all these bits and pieces up and you have the beginnings of your weekly (or bi-weekly, or monthly) meal plan. Start with foundational meals and recipes and build around them. Work with your leftovers. Plan ahead. The key here is preparation. If you aren’t willing to plan out the whole week yet, start with just a couple of days at a time. And you’re not going to get it right the first time. So, don’t sweat it. There is no failure, only feedback.

And before you make your next meal plan, take a minute to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Did they like that new recipe? Could you have made a bit more or a bit less of something? Did you try something new?

Baby steps. Love yourself. Love the process. It’s about the journey.

I’ve put together these simple pages that I use each week to plan my meals as well as make my grocery list. And before you ask me why I still make paper lists, I’ll tell you that I’ve been in several grocery stores where I have lost my signal, and not been able to get to my online grocery list. Never go by what you remember…. it’s an exercise in frustrations and futility. Anyway, I thought I would share this with you Firebirds in the hopes that it might be helpful for you.

Let me know in the comments what you think.

Image Credits:
     pixabay licensed under Pixabay License
     pixabay licensed under Pixabay License
     pixabay licensed under Pixabay License

Christy R. Hall

Christy R. Hall is a Wellness Mindset Coach & Emotional Alchemist. She focuses on helping people change their lives from the inside out. She uses hypnosis, Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT), Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) to help her clients achieve real and lasting change. Christy says, “When you know how the mind works, it’s easy to make changes.” Christy fancies herself to be a Jedi Master, a verbal Ninja, and a Mindset Architect. In her free time, she spins yarn (both literally spinning fiber into yarn, as well as, writing), crochets for charity, watches silly cat videos, looks at pictures of Corgis, and plays massively multiplayer online games. Her current favorite is Elder Scrolls Online.