Themed Dinner Nights for the Busy Mama (who’s honestly got better things to do).

Mama, I know you’ve got a lot on your plate right now and planning what to add to that plate for dinner tonight is stressing. you. out. It doesn’t have to be so complicated and anxiety inducing. Meal planning is simple if you let it be, especially if you use a themed night template to make your plans each week (or biweekly, or monthly). 

3 Reasons to Start a Themed Dinner Meal Plan

  1. Takes a lot of the pressure off your already exhausted mama brain. You make 30k decisions per day, having to create a meal plan out of thin air only adds to this. Take a few decisions out of your day by having half the work already done for you. 
  2. Your family knows what to expect. Humans thrive on consistency and structure. Designating specific nights to specific types of foods or sources of foods (hello delivery or takeout night!) can create a sense of safety you had no idea you needed. 
  3. Creates instant variety in your dinner menu. If Monday is always Italian, and Tuesday is always Mexican, and Wednesday is always soup, you’re not as likely to struggle with the boredom of repeating meals – even if you’re using leftovers to recycle into a new meal, it’s going to come out tasting totally different than the previous night’s meal.  

How it works

  1. Brain dump – write down all the meals your family loves to have on a regular basis. Look for patterns in these: are a handful of them regional meals? Are some of them vegetarian? Are there some “family style” meals? 
  2. Choose 3-7 themes, repeats are totally fine too. No shame in having crockpot meals multiple times per week. Your themes can be regional, protein based, how it’s prepared (crockpot, sheet pan, casserole), takeout or delivery, leftovers, etc. and you can mix different styles of themes. It’s your family, it’s your menu, make it YOU. 
  3. Decide how many nights you are going to theme (it doesn’t have to be all of them). 
  4. Create a “menu” and display it in the kitchen somewhere your family can see it and you remember to use it. 
  5. Each week (or biweekly/monthly) sit down and decide what specific meal will fill each theme. This takes the pressure off your day to day decisions and ensures that you have time to hit up the grocery store for any ingredients you might need to grab. 

Example Template image 

Reminder: guard your energy. Plan easiest meals when you are limited on time, etc. Crockpot meals for days you know will be busy with running kids to soccer practice and karate class is an easy way to win.

This is a guide to help, and deviating from the plan is always okay if it protects your energy or your heart.

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