You’re here because you need a change. Hats off to you!! It can be so hard to get out of the “I’ve-always-done-it-this-way” rut. You got this, mama.
You know that feeling you get when you realize you have no idea what you’re making for dinner and your mind is blank for a solid ten minutes? That feeling happens to be a familiar friend during my meal planning time every. single. week. But,
I’ve implemented a few strategies to fight the brain block, because that is half the battle.
Create a list.
I know. You’re probably rolling your eyes at me, because lists are my solution to everything, but hear me out!! I have created a list of all the meals my family loves, so that when I sit down to plan out my week, I can pull that bad boy out and simply pick and choose what to add to the menu. I keep the list on my phone because it’s a quick and easy reference for me anytime, anywhere. It’s easy to keep making the same five meals every week, and this list fights that urge.
Does your family love sloppy joes? Add it to the list. Wild chicken and rice soup? Add it. Remember that Pinterest recipe you nailed and it happened to be a hit with the kiddos? Write it down. You’ll be shocked how many outstanding food ideas you’ll have compiled. And the next time that brain block tries to get you down, BEAT IT.
Start a daily meal theme.
This idea is so fun that everyone should do it. What if you had a theme for each day of the week that would guide you in your meal planning sessions? You guys. Ever heard of Taco Tuesday? What if that was your theme for every Tuesday, and rather than always having tacos, you’d simply decide to make a Mexican dish that night? It could be quesadillas, rice and beans + chicken tortillas, enchiladas . . . do you see where this is going? By having a meal theme, you narrow your food choices, making it easier to decide what to make. And the fun part is, you get to pick your themes based on what your family loves. Here are some ideas:
Slow Cooker Night
Soup & Sandwich Night
[Insert meat here] Night
Breakfast for Dinner
Kids Favorite Night
Sheet Pan Dinner
The options are endless!! Pick some themes you love, assign them to a night of the week, and start meal planning!!
Cook through a cookbook.
This might seem daunting to some of you, but it can be oddly empowering!! If you’ve ever seen the movie Julie & Julia, you know there are a lot of hurdles to accomplishing a venture like this. Now, I’m not saying you should try to make all 524 recipes in 365 days like Julie did; what I am saying is pick a cookbook and make one recipe a week. The cookbook could be a favorite, an oldie but goodie, one you borrow from a friend, or a new one altogether. No matter the cookbook, I promise you’ll not only strengthen your cooking skills, but also have some fun doing it!!
Several years ago, I bought a cookbook of a blogger that I follow (Against All Grain). I’ve made several recipes from her book, but for the most part, it has sat on the shelf, untouched. That’s not to say that I’ve had every intention of using it, but since I haven’t had a plan, it’s sat for longer than I’d like to admit. This is inspiring me to shake off the dust and start cooking from page 1.
So, now that you’re amped up about starting a meal plan, let’s actually do it!!
My favorite meal-planning tools.
Personally, I love seeing my meal plan written down. It helps me remember what meat to set out each day and sometimes I do all the meal prep in the morning to save some time during that crazy 5 o’clock hour. And, I’d imagine if you had older kids, they might like to see what’s on the menu for the week!
If you’re someone who likes to live life loosey-goosey, you might just grab a piece of scrap paper, jot down your menu, and post it on the fridge. If you’re more structured, you might like a notepad that has space for each day of the week. My favorite notepad that I’ve used to date is the Knock-Knock “What to Eat” pad. It’s bright (perfect for getting my attention each day) and it’s only six bucks. It’s main focus is dinners, but there is space to write breakfast, lunch, and snacks on it as well. There are sixty pages, so if you use one page a week, it’ll last you over a year. Boom. (Get it here.)
Another great meal planning notepad is the Rifle Paper Co. Rosa Meal Planner. It’s pink and floral and every bit of pretty with its cursive font. There’s a spot to put your menu for each meal of the day, as well as a perforated shopping list on the side that’s perfect for your trip to the store. This gorgeous little planner will give you the perfect nudge each week and make you look good while you’re doing it! (Get it here.)
Another option would be to write your meal plan in the Notes App on your phone. This can be helpful if you’re always on the go, not to mention you can jot things down anytime, anywhere (considering most people have their phones with them at all times). Rather than spending time on social media while you’re waiting for an appointment, start brainstorming the following week and put your ideas to “paper,” so to speak, before you forget what they were!!
If you’re ready to make a change, put some action behind it. Buy a notepad, start browsing cookbooks, or ask your family what meal themes they’d love to see over the next few weeks. Get everyone involved!! By organizing this small part of your day, you’ll bring order to the chaos and simplify your evening rather than waste it with that familiar feeling of stress. You got this, mama!!
P.S. If you’re out of ideas and don’t know where to start, download five of my favorite recipes straight to your inbox by signing up below!!
*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I may be compensated via the affiliate links in this post. All products mentioned are ones that I’ve used, and come with my personal recommendation. I am an independent blogger and all opinions expressed here are my own.