The Real Reason You Struggle with Meal Planning

November 20, 2018

You’ve just added up last month’s takeout receipts — and it’s clear that eating out is bleeding you dry.

Still, meal planning feels daunting.

Planning out an entire month’s menu, complete with recipes and ingredient lists? The shopping, the chopping, the hours of cooking and the endless pile of dirty dishes when it’s over?

The very thought of it stresses you out.

But here’s the thing. Meal planning shouldn’t be stressful. It should be easy and…yes, even fun!

So why does it stress you out so bad?

5 Reasons Just the Thought of Meal Planning Fills You With Dread

It’s easy to talk your self out of getting started with meal planning. Because everything you’ve read makes it seem so damn complicated!

Maybe thoughts like these run through your mind:

  1. You dread sitting down and figuring out how many onions you need for 2 1/2 cups diced. Ugh.
  2. So many recipes are stupidly complicated, take too long to make — they just have too many ingredients to deal with. Or they feature foods that would incite a riot in your house (kale, anyone?)
  3. And what happens if your plans need to change suddenly? For example, what happens to your planned meals if you have to work late, or if your kids stay overnight at their buddy’s house? Do they get tossed into the bin?
  4. Accepting a last minute dinner invitation means you’ll have an extra dinner thawed out. Then where does it go in the meal rotation?
  5. You only get two days off, and you don’t want to spend one of them cooking all day long

No wonder it seems easier to pick up the phone and order takeout!

Your Meal Planning Efforts Don’t Need to Be ‘Pinterest Perfect’

Too many of us get caught up in feeling our lives should be as perfect as a Pinterest board. And when we can’t measure up, we feel inadequate.

But here’s why you shouldn’t feel that way.

Newsflash…nothing on Pinterest looks that good without a Photoshop assist.

You don’t need to feel unworthy if you’re not ready to plan out a month’s worth of menus just yet.

Meal planning doesn’t have to be the all or nothing proposition it’s made out to be.

Baby Step Your Way to Success

Taking the time to plan and cook just a few simple meals per week will save you tons of time and money. Not only that — you can avoid takeout food loaded with sugar and sodium. (That stuff’s as hard on your body as it is on your wallet!)

Here are a few tips to make your first meal planning efforts successful:

  1. Stock your pantry with staples before you even think about starting meal planning. It takes a bit of a cash outlay to build up your pantry, so get that stocked up first. Having a well-stocked pantry helps you avoid last minute trips to the store. (Need a printable list of basic pantry staples? Grab one here — feel free to skip the suggested snack items.)
  2. Shop during off-hours if you get overwhelmed by a busy store
  3. Don’t buy a set of coordinated containers to store your meals right away. Ziplock bags will work just fine for now.
  4. Stick to simple recipes and family favourites like chilli, spaghetti sauce, and soups if you’re not an accomplished cook. Expand your recipe collection once you build up your cooking skills and confidence. (Need help picking out recipesTheKitchn.com has some excellent advice for planning novices.)

Remember: Every Meal Planning Winner Was Once a Beginner

Forget ‘Pinterest Perfection.’

You need meal planning that fits your family’s life — not the other way around.

Allow yourself some wiggle room.

If you enjoy a weekly pizza night, don’t feel guilty about it.

Meal planning is about saving time and money where you can, not about blindly following someone else’s plan. Don’t stress yourself out. Do what seems manageable right now.

When you cook dinner, cook a little extra and save it for lunch the next day. Or this Sunday, maybe just prepare lunches. Or maybe just a couple of dinners. Whatever feels manageable.

Your efforts will soon pay off for better health and a fatter wallet!

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Norma Rickman

About the Author

Norma Rickman

NormaR is our WeBananas tech blogger. She came to us as a crusty copywriter from the Far North who lives and breathes conversions. In her spare time, she's a diehard Edmonton Oilers fan (sadly), a foodie and a passionate landscape photographer.

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