36: How to Meal Plan When You Hate Making Decisions – an honest talk on real life in my kitchen – Meant to Bloom: I Get To
If one of the biggest stressors in your life right now is that dinner time dilemma, then this is for you. Dinner time can be so much easier than you’re letting it be and it all starts with a foolproof meal plan. I used to let the dinner time dilemma send me into a spiral of depressive symptoms and anxiety attacks. Then I started getting serious about meal planning. Having the decisions made beforehand – before you’ve already had a long day, before you’re nearing burn out, before you’re hangry – can have a profound impact on the way you approach preparing dinner for your family.
Before we dive in, I want you to know a few things:
- Dinner isn’t that big of a deal. It’s not even the most important meal of the day.
- Your value and worth as a mother has nothing to do with how Pin-Worthy your dinner is.
- You don’t have to get fancy or provide an impressive variety of dinners each week.
- Frozen meals are fine. Your husband isn’t going to leave you over a dinner that was easy for you to cook – and if he would, you should let him leave, he’s a jerk.
- Your family wants you to be happy, more than they want a “perfect dinner plan” to be perfectly executed.
- The Easy Way to Meal Plan Blog Post
- How to Create a Rotating Meal Plan
- 6 Week Meal Plan Template
- The Ultimate Meal Planning Guide
- Happy Mom Mindset Mini Guide
- Episode 23: Simplify Healthy Eating for The Whole Family
What Meal Planning Looks Like In My House Right Now:
Everything you need to know about meal planning is already on the internet – I’m not here today to reteach the ins and outs of it. Today we’re going to chat about what meal planning actually looks like for me right now and how it’s helping me with my decision anxiety.
If I don’t have a meal plan I tend to have intense decision anxiety that leads to a full on panic attack. Since I mentioned it, the best way to work through your decision anxiety is to journal through that and reflect on a list of good decisions you’ve made before in your life.
What tends to happen in my brain when I try to decide what to cook at dinner time is I let the whole thing snowball into a bigger deal than it is. I panic about making the best meal possible like my marriage depends on it (my husband has helped me work through this by reinforcing the truth that he’s promised to never leave me over a bad dinner).
When I make a meal plan, I’m making sure that I have the decisions made before I go shopping. This helps me keep my sanity and keeps me from buying too many groceries that go to waste – which then causes a new source of anxiety and guilt for having spent money on food that ends up thrown out.
I usually choose the meals I put on my meal plan from our family menu. I took about 20-30 meals that I know my family likes and I don’t hate cooking and created a menu of our go-to meals. This keeps me from having anxiety over too many choices, and these are all meals I know how to make without having to reference a recipe.
When it’s super hot out I know I’m not going to want to cook at all. I’m going to want to be outside while the kids play. Those nights I’ll usually just grab some salad kits and precooked chicken to put on top and call that a full meal.
Other weeks I’ll make things even more simple by ordering from a meal service like Every Plate – I’ll pick 5 meals from their predetermined menu and they send me all the food I need to make dinner for the whole week.
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When it comes to breakfast and lunch I let that be easy by just picking what feels good for the day. I never seem to stress about breakfast or lunch. Breakfast is typically cereal or oatmeal, maybe scrambled eggs and some fruits. Lunch in our house is usually sandwiches or mac and cheese or left overs. We tend to stock the fridge with healthy snacks of dippable veggies and the kids’ favorite fruits and yogurts.
Everything you need for easy-peasy, stress-free meal-planning is in my What’s for Dinner? Meal Planning Guide. This guide includes a pep talk, reflective questions, the family menu template, grocery list template, weekly meal plan template, the easy method for meal planning and more for a super low cost. (it’s less than 5 bucks!) You can find it here: on Etsy.
If you want to have one big meal plan that you don’t have to repeat meals often, check out the Rotating 6 Week Meal Plan. This is how I used to plan before I decided to work on not allowing myself to stress about it and it worked really well for us for a long time.
Or check out The Easy Way To Meal Plan if you want to set up themed nights and avoid feelings of repetitive meals if that’s of interest to you.