Meal Planning For Those Who Hate It

I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate meal planning. Wait, I don’t think that was enough hates… Oh, well. This is actually one reason why I didn’t want to be a stay at home mom (yeah, life loves to laugh at me). I don’t know how my mom did it. I remember finding her standing in the kitchen, staring into the freezer. No way did I want that to be me.

Fast forward 15 years. I’m a stay at home mom who has to plan meals and snacks for 4 people. So not what I want to be doing…

I am dreadful at meal planning. On Thursdays, I ask my husband what he wants to eat next week, praying he has a good idea. If I’m lucky I have an idea by Friday night. Usually, we stand in the market on Saturday mornings and wonder what we’re cooking. Yeah, so not good at this.

Luckily, I’ve developed a system, of sorts, that mostly works.

  1. Make 2 lists. One list holds every dish my husband and I make. These are tried and true and are usually well-received. The second list holds the recipes we would like to try one day. This way we have a go-to place to start, a place where we can peruse the recipes and decide what we want to eat. Though, whether we achy do this may or may not happen…
  2. Keep a stocked cooking shelf. Make sure you have the spices and cooking basics that you use the most. We always have ground ginger, garlic powder, Adobo seasoning, basil, oregano, cumin, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, oil, olive oil, tomato sauce, and coconut milk on hand. It’s what we use the most and they’re easy enough to experiment with.
  3. Buy the produce you use the most. We are a bell pepper loving family, so when we don’t know what we’re cooking, we always buy peppers. Even if we don’t use them, we can always slice them and munch or sautee them.
  4. Cook dishes that make a lot of servings or double recipes. Cooking a lot of food at one time can actually save time. See below. I come from a family of 5, so my mom’s recipes make a lot of food. Just because I have a smaller family doesn’t mean I make less. It just means…
  5. The freezer is your friend. Freeze the extra! Portion them out. Freeze half. Just get some of it in the freezer and you’ll always have food on hand. Just defrost and heat. If you make a lot of food over a week or two and freeze some, eventually you just have to take something out of the freezer.
  6. Be like my husband and enjoy the same thing for two or three days (AKA leftovers). My husband loves eating the exact same thing day after day. I try to cap it at two days. Which means I don’t have to plan meals for every night of the week! Just 3-4.

This is how I survive meal planning. Or, really, how I get around meal planning. As I write this, I’m pretty sure I only have to cook once next week, if that! Bring on the extra play time with the kids!

Note to self: take something out of the freezer.

Do you plan meals or do you wing it? What are some of your tips?


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  1. mrsmotherdirt

    Good advice! Meal planning is a science all on its own. I was doing a weekly menu for a while but I was always the one having to come up with fresh ideas. Now we have a “standing menu”. It’s static – it doesn’t change and will stay in place until we are sick of it. Like you we utilize left overs. There is actual cooking 5 days and leftover 2 days. It also cuts down on wasted food. 🙂

    • kat

      I like the idea of a standing menu. We had something like that when I was growing up. Makes it so much easier to know what to cook! Leftovers are amazing. Cuts down on the cooking and definitely the amount of wasted food. Enough gets wasted with a protesting toddler around…

  2. mommyslittledarling14

    I’m so bad at meal planning! I usually buy the same groceries and have the same meals i just space them out week by week. But i want to incorporate new recipes so meal planning is a must. I’m going to try this method. Good read!

    • kat

      I hope it works out for you! Meal planning is hard and tedious. I don’t know how people do it! We used to do the same dishes over and over, but I got tired of it and just had to come up with something that would make everyone happy.

  3. mrskellymakingitin6th

    Meal planning is such pain sometimes – but it’s so satisfying to get everything in one trip and not go to the store more than maybe 2 or 3 (tops) times a week! Luckily, it’s just me and my husband so we don’t have others to plan for when meal planning. But one other thing I do when deciding on what to make each week is consult my ibotta app. They have different things on cash back (it changes throughout the week) and you just scan your receipt and they put money in your account for it. If you haven’t looked into it – you should!!

    I agree though about the husband refused to freeze things..but I get meat when they discount it, throw it in the freezer, and plan a meal for the next week using it. 🙂

    • kat

      I haven’t heard of that app, but will definitely look into it, thanks! Meal planning is great, but really can be a pain. Though I love that it makes going shopping a breeze, it’s just so hard sometimes to find the time.

      The freezer really is an amazing invention!

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