A Stress Free Meal Plan

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As much as I want to deny this simple truth, I can’t. It’s heartbreaking, I know, but the sooner we face the facts, the sooner we can heal.

Here it is:

We will always and forever have to meal plan because we will always and forever need food. 

I’m sorry I had to be the one to tell you this. I know your day was probably going along smoothly, and I just had to bring you down. Feel free to hate me, but somebody had to do it.

For years I’ve felt like I can’t handle this truth, but I’m pushing the end of my 30’s and it’s time to accept reality. Just embrace it! Deal with it!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you hanging. I have solutions, friends. Or one solution, but still. If I come upon a good thing, I feel bound to share it with you.

At the beginning of the school year, that panicky feeling creeped in again about having to actually plan ahead. It reminded me, with cold sweats and heart palpitations, that I’m an adult and summer doesn’t last forever. Lackadaisical meal planning just won’t cut it once summer ends. There will be schedules to keep and children to drive to soccer and dinner will need to be served sometime before bedtime. Nothing cramps my style more than a deadline for dinner.

So. I came up with a plan. I’ve always posted my menus on my refrigerator, but normally I switch up the menu every week or month because I get so tired of the same old thing. Basically, that has been killing me slowly over the last few years and I need my life back.

Here’s the Meal Plan:

  • I sorted through the most common recipes I use and pulled them out, made copies, and stuck them in a separate binder.
  • Then I typed up a list, categorized them (soups, crockpot meals, chicken, etc) and printed it.
  • I put this list in a sheet protector and hung it on my refrigerator.
  • On Sunday nights, I look at the list, choose five meals, and circle them with a dry erase marker.
  • Next, all I have to do is flip through the binder of those recipes, take a quick glance at the ingredients, and add them to my shopping list.

Oh my goodness, it’s an actual 5-step plan. 

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After the initial set-up, Sunday night meal planning takes less than five minutes. Have I sold you on it yet? I know it’s completely old fashioned, and if you have all your recipes on your iPad or pinterest you’ll have to use some sort of techie way to do this, so don’t come crying to me for help.

But, I’ve been doing it for about a month and it’s working. I’m not stressed at all about meal planning anymore. I may switch out some recipes for the fall/winter, whenever those seasons decide to show up, but this system is a keeper.

Will I swear by all of the recipes I’ve chosen? No. My kids tastes and opinions are forever changing and finding a so-called kid-friendly meal eludes me. What does kid-friendly even mean? Do I need to cook chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese every night? I think basically it means “anything not healthy and full of carbs.”

I’m sorry, but their opinions about food can no longer be trusted.

Recently I may have been overheard saying something like, “Don’t ever ask me what you can have for a snack again. Ever.” Why? Because I will always list the same things and they will always complain about those options. They know what we have to eat so they can find their own snack and leave me out of it.

But back to the point. If you struggle when it comes to planning meals, just try this. It takes the agony out of meal planning, and I’ll do anything to remove agony.

Have a wonderful weekend.

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