Meal planning. Sounds time-consuming, right?
I feel ya. Honestly, I used to just wing it and get by on a wing and a prayer. What changed my mind?
My mind was changed about meal planning after seeing how much waste there was in my fridge EVERY week. I felt the pain of throwing so much money down the drain EVERY single week just by not using ingredients we’d normally kept in our staple pantry. I can’t even say that picky kids caused the issue. What can I say? I can say that eating out when we were too tired to think of what to cook started to become the norm. I started to look long and hard at our life, budget, and the lack of planning and that’s when I realized what needed to change. I realized that if I didn’t want to weep when I looked at our garbage can on fridge clean out day that I needed things to change.
I have come to the conclusion that meal planning is a major pain in the butt, because we make it that way. We imagine that we won’t know what we want to eat on Thursday while we’re planning on Sunday. We decide our kids are too picky. We don’t keep everything clean and ready to go.
I feel like I’ve hit the nail on the head though when I think of these 4 mistakes that you’re probably making. I can speak from experience because I was making them too. I was overcomplicating my life.
But never fear momma, we are going to hit up these major meal planning issues right now.
Here we go….
1. Winging it
I talked about this one a little in the opening paragraphs of this post. I was literally drowning in ingredients that didn’t go together. We love avocados. We buy 2. Then we’d have like butternut squash, soy sauce, coleslaw mix, and peaches. What are you going to make with that? I would end up staring at the fridge in total disbelief that I couldn’t just throw something together. It became the endless cycle of OMG we have nothing to eat. Been there?
Solution: Plan ahead. This sounds simple, right? I know that it can be complicated. That’s part of why I’m hosting the 7-day meal planning challenge. I don’t want you to be stressed about dinner, and I know winging it can do that. Planning ahead doesn’t have to be a long process. You can make it as simple as knowing what protein and what genre of meal you want to have that night. If you do it in advance, you’ll solve 90% of your problem.
2. Not asking for input
Do you have a picky eater? I don’t per se, but I do have a very opinionated child. He loves to eat food, but he also likes to take part in the planning. Plus, I know my husband appreciates being involved as well. I mean who wants to plan a meal and have everyone revolt? Not me. I look forward to people enjoying my meals. I also look forward to using ingredients in the fridge that people are just excited about and let me tell you how much I’m craving yummy tummy avocado as I write this post. Seriously!
Solution: Listen, I know picky eaters are difficult and you don’t want to eat chicken nuggets every night. I also know that sometimes if you let them give you input you will be surprised. It’s also about pushing limits without getting too scary. If you ask them and truly hear them, you might learn a little about why they are picky. Is it a texture issue? Do they just not like salty tasting foods?
3. Cooking 2 meals
Okay, you know you’ve overcomplicating dinner when you have to cook 2 meals. You also know it stresses you out. You feel bad because your child isn’t eating healthier. You feel stressed that you aren’t pushing them to try new things. I feel ya. The truth is that cooking 2 meals just adds more to your mental load than almost any other part of this list. Now, I’m not a tyrant. I’ll NEVER make a kid eat something they truly hate. I feel like that’s just as stressful as giving them a second option.
Solution: Make the second option something easy for you to make and that the kid likes. Eggs, pb&j, and a quesadilla are always options in my house.
4. Not caring for your tools
Does anyone want to cook when their tools aren’t clean? No! The days of eating cereal with a fork because we’re too lazy to clean a spoon are over. We’re #adulting now ya’ll. Seriously!
Solution: Fill the dishwasher and set the dishes to clean after your last meal of the day!
See, these aren’t too bad. You can set yourself up for success by doing a few things ahead of time to make your life so much easier! If you set yourself up for success, you’ll find that your mental exhaustion is abated. You’ll have a plan that everyone knows. You’ll have a plan that ANYONE in your household could carry out. Heck, you have a plan that ANYONE in your household could put together. Remember dinner doesn’t have to be your responsibility. Play to your strengths.
Now that we’ve looked at these mistakes and how exactly you can fix them, what’s next? Dinner is usually the most stressful meal of the day. It’s the one meal where almost all of us have to feed everyone, which is why I created The Whole Enchilada 7-Day Meal Planning Challenge. You should join us on the journey to a less stressful meal time and a plan that will set you up for success. You’ll be glad to no longer be in charge of the entire process!