Wouldn’t it be great to have a crystal ball for motherhood? Something that could tell us the best place to spend our time and energy to result in the kindest, most capable little humans? I figure that’s the deal with meal planning, too. So many people tell me they don’t meal plan or that they aren’t good at it and, these are usually very capable moms. They are juggling so much already–managing kids, busy careers, full homes–that I don’t believe that they aren’t able to meal plan.
What I believe in my heart is that they just get to the end of the day or the week or the month and THEY.ARE.TIRED. They have no more decision-making energy left. Add to it that meal planning for a young family often comes with a lot of emotional ‘stuff’ (because feeding the littles isn’t always easy), and that’s enough to send any exhausted mama bear straight into hibernation (with wine) every night at dinner.
But, what if you could zero in on the area that would just flip the whole meal planning switch? As in, you make a small adjustment and actually see results? Well, I think that’s possible and I totally recommend starting RIGHT THERE. I’m all about quick wins fueling us with energy to run the long race. And, if you’re able to up your game in one tiny area of meal planning and see real results, you might just be inspired enough to tweak your system even more.
So, glance over the following 5 scenarios and see which one resonates with you the most. Then, get ready for a quick-win.
1. You sit down to meal plan and your mind goes blank.
I hear this SO OFTEN. Mamas that have the best of intentions, are open to the idea of meal planning and have even carved out time in their schedule do it. But, when they do, the act of selecting meals for the week is PAINFUL. Why? You don’t have a quick, go-to list of favorites that you can look at and choose from quickly. THAT little list would solve so many dinnertime woes.
QUICK WIN: Jot down a list of meals your family will eat. That’s all. Start with 10. That will get you through 2 weeks of dinners, if you’re like most families. Throw in a night out, a leftover night, an easy soup and sandwich night, and you’ve just planned for 2 whole weeks. High-five.
2. You have a fridge full of groceries, but nothing to eat for dinner.
I had a friend from high school reach out to me once for help because she had just spent $200 at Wal-Mart and didn’t have anything for dinner. Ever done this? Rest assured, the solution is simple.
QUICK WIN: 1) Start meal planning around your family’s busy schedule and 2) make a list and take it with you to the store.
3. It’s 4:00. BOOM! Panic sets in. What’s for dinner?
QUICK WIN: Same as #2. 🙂 Meal plan AROUND your family’s busy schedule. Embrace the crazy and strategically plan around it. Don’t start with a full-blown system. Start with an index card and jot down 5 meals for the next 5 days. The system will come later. You need to know that having a plan feels INCREDIBLE.
4. You have the groceries, the plan, and are all psyched to make dinner. But, then, you’re SOOO tired. Heading to Chic-Fil-A.
This happens. Families have freezers full of meals that they don’t thaw, meat that they’ve purchased but never cooked, and tons of food to make elaborate dinners. Here are potential causes and….solutions.
You aren’t planning around your family’s busy schedule (have I said that enough?). So, basically you’re not taking into consideration that you only have 15 minutes to make dinner on Wednesday.
QUICK WIN: Do plan around your family’s busy schedule. You can’t bake a chicken in 15 minutes, unless you have an InstantPot, so on the day that you’re rushing home from Suzy’s practice 20 minutes before you want to eat dinner, use a rotisserie chicken as the protein of that meal.
Another possibility is that you’re routinely making meals to accommodate many members of your family and, at the end of a busy day, the thought of short order cooking 3 meals is laughable.
QUICK WIN: Check out How I Hit Rock Bottom with MY Picky Eaters and the steps I took to bring some dinnertime peace to my home.
One last potential cause: not having a system where you can trigger yourself with quick reminders of prep instructions throughout the week. Reminders like…take the pork tenderloin out of the freezer.
QUICK WIN: Download my weekly planning printable that has a nice little spot for ‘Notes + To Dos’. Just fill in your info below and it will be on its way, with a free email course on how to use it to create a 1-week meal plan.
5. You are eating the same meals over and over and are SO uninspired.
You need variety! But, you don’t need to spend 10 hours on Pinterest pinning recipes you’ll never make OR loading up your to-do list with eventual Pinterest fails. Go with the tried and true.
QUICK WIN: Hop on over to our Meal Planning Junkies Facebook community where we share TONS of well-tested ideas, check out some of my meal making posts on the blog and consider getting help from a company that does a lot of the planning for you, Wildtree.
Whatever you choose, firmly decide that dinner will not be the low point of your day. Instead, it can be the best and most important meal of your family’s day because there is a lot of good to be had during that 30-minute block of time.
I want to hear about you! Type ‘YES!’ in the comments in you’ve ever had a fridge full of groceries and nothing to eat for dinner. 🙂 I would say of the five scenarios listed above, that’s the one I hear most often from my 1-on-1 clients. So, let me know if I’m totally off-base in thinking that THAT’s the most common.
Too many recipes got you like....AGHH!?!
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