Thursday, March 24, 2011

mommy hates to meal plan

I hate meal planning.  Hate it, I say.  

Oh and I try.  Do I ever try.  I've purchased magazines just because it has a weekly meal plan ad on the cover.  I've downloaded meal plans other moms have created.  I've joined meal planning websites galore.  I've confessed to friends my meal planning inadequacies just to hint for their help.  I've sat frozen for hours glaring at an empty spread sheet while trying to gather my wits and get started on my own.  I've gathered the family up and asked for their suggestions in hopes of making it easier.  You name it.  I've tried it.  But the bottom line is:  I'm a meal plan flop.   

This morning I was sweating over yet another meal planning attempt and just so frustrated.

Why is this so dang hard?! 

I was on the verge of hollering out loud! 

The easy answer:  Duh, because we can't afford a live-in chef!  But the other answer is: I make it that way.  In my constant pursuit of perfect I do have a tendency to over complicate things.   And totally wig myself out.  I'm here trying to be fancy shamancy meal planner mom.  When the reality is -frozen waffles and ready made pizza are more my imperfect style. 

So right then and there I made the choice to stop chasing perfect.  No more meal planning wig outs for me! I flipped that stupid super organized grid over and free-styled on the back!  I am just not a grid kinda girl.  I needed to simplify things even more.  And I need my list to do double duty as a grocery guide too!  I can just copy on my Cookie Monster shopping list the foods in bold and wah-lah I know what to buy!  My job is to keep the choices stocked.  Theirs is to help themselves for all non-dinner meals. This is what I came up with: 

 Breakfast Choices 
they can choose any of the choices listed provided we haven't run out AND they must be able to help themselves 

chocolate milk - cereal - fruit - toast 

Lunch Choices 
I am making a promise to myself to teach the kiddos how to prep and make these meals themselves this year, which will be especially handy on sandwich day seeing that he hates peanut butter and she bologna; we'll choose whichever option fits the mood of the day; and fruit or veggies with ranch are always on hand for a side

mini pizzas - oodles of noodles - chicken nuggets - mac n' cheese - grilled cheese - frozen waffles - sandwiches - nachos with salsa

I don't mind the kids grazing during breaks as long as they help themselves and clean up after themselves.  Also, I wish I were more of a grazer than a wai-ter only to pig out-er.  

fruit - applesauce - granola bars - poptarts - goldfish - pretzels - nuts - yogurt

Dinner Choices 
I'm including the days of the week but still keeping it simple enough to not overwhelm me.  Also...we always have applesauce, salad and bread & butter with our meals for the picky eaters.  I'm planning on getting this into a more detailed monthly schedule but right now it includes meals I can make with little to no brain power.  Days with more than one option means I give myself the liberty to pick one based on mood.  I actually do that often by even swapping out days of the week. 

  • Monday - Little Ceasar's (cause it would be a sin to skip $3.99 night! :) 
  • Tuesday - Mexican Casserole - Fried Rice - Fish Stix Tacos
  • Wednesday -Something crockpot (cause it's a full day with homeschooling in the am and outpatient therapies in the pm)
  • Thursday - Spaghetti & Meatballs - Porkchops & Greenbean Casserole 
  • Friday - Chicken & Broccoli Casserole -  Soup & Sandwiches  - Quesidillas
  • Saturday - Breakfast for dinner (or convince the hubs that we all deserve an out-for-dinner treat!)
  • Sunday - Clean out out the Leftovers Day - Subway  

My style may totally not work for you.  And the point.  It's okay to cheat.

Cheat = doing what works for you whether it involves spreadsheets or not (just so long as it cuts down on the wigouts!)


  1. Things that have helped me with meal plans is not to assign days unless there is a specific reason a meal needs to be on a certain day (like a birthday dinner). I try to plan extra dinners for the week so that I can swap out meals if something doesn't sound good (or I forgot to thaw the meat!). I also started using a small spiral notebook, on the left page I write down meals planned including any special baking I plan for the week and then on the right page I have our shopping list. The small notebook fits in my purse and it's so nice to have the actual menu with me at the store so if they don't have pot roast or whatever I can see what I have planned and easily make substitutions. Good luck!

  2. I looooooove the notebook idea! I'll probably steal it. Cause my other (than cheating) hobby is stealing ideas. :)


  3. I did something similar with my meal planning. For me, it just works best to keep it simple. And I am also lacking brain power by the end of the day, so I take that into account when making plans! :)

  4. Carletta...we're end of the day kindred spirits :)


  5. I feel the same way with meals. I just don't like to schedule my weekly meals which means more often than not I don't have the ingredients on hand to make what ever I wanted to make. My husband is convinced it is my way of being taken out to dinner regularly:)

  6. Hahaha...I think our hubby's are cut from the same cloth. Or maybe it's us? ;)


  7. I do the same thing...I don't assign a specific day for meal. But I do have a calender that I write all the meals I would like to make for this pay period. I try and factor in eat out days and days that I will make something a little special. So if I plan on making a nice roast or meatloaf on Sunday, but one of the kids are sick or we decided to go out to eat, no sweat...but at least I have all the ingredients for all the meals I want to make so I am not looking in the pantry, fridge or freezer stuck because I don't have something on hand. And the crock pot is great!!!

  8. I do love my crock pot. Although I need to experiment more. You can only eat so much beef stew...


  9. I completely understand. I posted my meal plan and it fell through almost everyday. I at least have some food options though. I used to love this process, but with food prices on the rise and feeding 4 ravenous kids.....well I dread it now. This week we ate out way tooo much!!

  10. I'm still trying to get the meal plan thing to work for me... I have a list of possibilities and one of these days I'll get it all together...

    I like the idea of teaching them how to make some basic lunches, I'm going to try to get on that I think.

  11. This is a great approach! I am a complicater too and dislike meal planning. But I recognize the weeks I do plan go easier and we eat better. I think I will give this approach a whirl -at least feel motivated by the idea so that's a start!