How did you do journaling and getting excited about meal planning being easy?
I hope that it was helpful and inspiring for you. To make this work you need to come from a mindset that this is easy, simple and, “I can make meal planning work.”
I hope that by the end of this evening you have a rough plan for the next month! Find a planning rotation that works for your family and is effective.
Part of getting meal planning to be easy is recognizing that you already know what you and your family want to eat. We get in the habit of saying that we don’t know what we or our family wants to eat. We focus on lack and what we can’t or don’t have. Our minds use this trick to get us to disengage from the information and procrastinate.
What if you do know what you want to eat?
Assume that you know what you and your family want to eat!
Start with what works for your family. When you have your mind set that you know what you want to eat, several meals will come to mind immediately. Make your meals repeatable and simple, for example my family loves to eat salad bar and I often have a lot of the items on hand.
Things to think about when making a meal plan calendar:
- When creating your meal plan calendar, first look at special events or exceptions so you know how to plan ahead.
- Next, assign clean up, if you have enough kids you can have them rotate through.
- Is there anything you can do to help with cleanup? Would using paper products help, even if it is one day a week? Focus on your clean up being effective, not fair. Do what works for your family and expect changes and shifting. Consider some of the changes and adaptations as you go along and don’t be afraid to change it up.
- Think about what your family likes to eat and if it is easy, that is even better!
- Once you have exhausted those thoughts, start to look at themes like grilling, fresh foods, Mexican etc. Exhaust your brain of the ideas that come and then jot them down. If you don’t have a specific meal in mind you can simply add the theme to your calendar.
- Don’t stress over what you haven’t figured out yet.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your kids what they want to eat or if they can cook, what they want to cook. Kids are usually more engaged in eating the food if they can help decide or help cook.
- To fill empty meal blocks, look in your freezer and see what you need to use up.
- Keep your old menus so that you can refer back to them when you are out of ideas and pick things out that you see your family loved!
- And remember, if you have some blank spaces that is okay! You will need a leftover night, someone might want cereal or you may even go out to eat.
What do I do if we need a leftover night or have something unexpected happen?
All you have to do is circle the meal on the menu that was not eaten and arrow it to a day with a blank space. Before you go grocery shopping look at the week and see if you had any days with unused meals. Plan to eat that meal first.
- Limit the plan- you know stuff
- Themes- come up with themes and add them in
- Plan- Any plan is better than no plan!
- Focus: Don’t try to plan and watch a movie, it will be a lot faster.
What to do if this is all overwhelming:
- Start simple! Add someone to help you plan your meals like your spouse of children.
- Have a new thing night or an old thing night!
- If figuring out every single meal seems overwhelming, have a variety of meats, veggies and fruits that you can mix and match with.
- Prepping can be extremely helpful like washing veggies, chopping some up, cooking up the meat.
Pick one idea and see how it goes and works for you and your family. Be flexible and move things around that feel most natural.
Parents with young children: know what you are doing in the morning with your time, what is the afternoon plan and what is for dinner? Those are your 3 focuses. That in and of itself is a plan!
Training your kids to help: If your child helps you do anything, just one time a week that is 52 times they helped you in the kitchen that year. It’s okay if it isn’t every meal or every day, consistency is key! Allow help when you have margin. If you don’t mentally have the margin one night, that is okay! You have to be okay with a 6 year old job washing the dishes if you give them the job. Let them learn, sometimes you can be too bossy for your own good. You choose what price you want to pay, sometimes you make a choice to be kind and walk away, sometimes you choose to do the dishes yourself. Kids learn a lot faster if you let them figure it out and overlook the small stuff. It’s okay for your kids not to help every meal, be patient and it will happen!
You are in the business of picking what is important for your meal time and for your sanity.
Remember, you know what you and your family want to eat! Even if it feels overwhelming to pick meals right now, start small. Having some sort of plan is ALWAYS better than having absolutely no plan. Your family will love being able to help you pick meals. With your spouse and/or children having more of a say in choosing meals they will be more engaged. You can do this!
Mealtime Management is a three-part series designed to help you thrive in your meal planning strategies. Be sure to read all three articles to get the best tools for your Mealtime Management, and don’t forget to grab your Mealtime Management Tool Kit!
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