Meal Planning Made Easier: Two Things You Can Change

Meal Planning.

How can two little words cause so much tension and anxiety? We’ve all been there. You sit down on Sunday night, or maybe Monday morning if you can avoid it another day, and try to figure out what you will feed your family for the week. What seems like a simple task suddenly feels like an impossibility.

Easy Meal Planning - Two Things You Can Change

Not only do you not want to resort to cooking the same thing every week, but you also have to factor in the fussing and arguing that will ensue if you dare to offer something new and different. “I don’t want any yucky stuff on my plate Mommy.” That’s what I hear from my four year old every night as I set the table for dinner. Ugh, unfortunately for me he has defined everything EXCEPT bread, pizza, and macaroni and cheese as “yucky stuff.”

The enormity of the task that you have set is enough to send anyone running in the other direction. So what do we usually do? We head to Pinterest and start searching for things like “Kid Friendly Meals” or “Quick Easy Dinner Recipes” and before you know it we are lost in a stream of DIY Succulent Terrariums posts, which I swear I am going to make one day! 


What if we didn’t set such an impossible goal? What if instead of requiring that we come up with 5 new recipes that we then had to create a mile long shopping list for, we chose one tried and true recipe and 2 new ones? Why do we have to do it all at once? Who says we have to make one hour long, stress filled shopping trip each week? Why not two 30 minute stress-FREE trips?

“But I don’t have TIME to go to the grocery store two times a week!” you say. I completely hear you, I do. We have so many commitments- jobs, kids, events, sleep. They are all so important, but so is this. Yet, we tend to put it at the end of our list. It takes up so much of our time and energy spent each week and is SO important to our health and emotional well being but in most families it is what we least want to do.

My Challenge To You – Find a Way To Enjoy Feeding Your Family

Step 1: No Complaining

This goes for you and your kids. 🙂

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. I know, you might have a better chance eating a whole elephant than getting your three-year-old to try a tiny piece of broccoli. So for the next week, don’t try! Just offer at least one or two things on their plate that they usually like. For my kids, that is usually fruit and some type of bread. Most importantly institute a new rule. No complaining! That’s right, every night you will give them their food but first explain that you have made sure there are two things on their plate that they like and they can eat what they want and leave what they don’t, BUT they are not allowed to complain. Obviously, they will complain, but just keep saying the same thing. If they finally realize you aren’t going to push them to eat something they don’t want they will eventually quit complaining. It could take a week or so though. If you are worried about them starving, don’t. Give them plenty of what they like to eat. For the next week or two, we aren’t worried about nutritional values, just getting them to stop complaining.

STEP 2: Don’t Plan and Shop For The Whole Week At One Time

This will probably be a big change. Remember, I’m only asking you to try it for two weeks. We are programmed to shop for at least one to two weeks at a time. It’s a bad habit. I usually waste so much food this way. I want my family to eat fresh food, but our lives are so crazy right now. If I plan out five meals, there will be at least one or two nights where our plans change and I am either rushing to freeze the food that I had planned to use or I forget and it goes to waste.

If I am only planning for two or three nights I also find that I don’t dread sitting down and working on my list. My shopping trips are faster and way less stressful too. Once the kids realized that we won’t be going up and down every single aisle they are less fussy. The other day my youngest actually made it all the way to check out before finishing his cookie! This usually means I am making two shopping trips a week, and planning twice, but I can usually split that up into an actual visit into the store and the other trip is either ordering online with Amazon Fresh or picking up groceries using the Walmart Grocery pickup service. 

Make these two small changes in the next week or so and see how much free-er you feel! It’s strange how splitting a task in two can actually save time. Yes, you are doing the same thing twice in one week, but but it will still save you time and frustration!

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Easy Meal Planning - Two Things You Can Change