“I don’t know what’s for dinner but the idea of meal planning? Ugghhhh…..”
When I first tell people what I do – I hear this A LOT!
While the idea of meal planning may initially make you want to run screaming in the opposite direction, you might feel the same about having to decide what’s for dinner every night – even though you know if you meal plan you’ll save time, money and ease the mental load!
I know for me I definitely felt overwhelmed, mainly because I don’t think I truly understood what meal planning really meant. There was a definite “light bulb” moment when I read on someone’s blog that meal planning included factoring in takeaway! But more on that in a tick…
It is hard to start new habits, even when you know the benefits. After all whatever you’re doing must be working ok, because everyone must be eating? So it’s all about doing better and making life easier…. At some point the scales will tip!
Have you ever noticed the difference in tone when you ask your friends what’s for dinner when they know or don’t know? Have you noticed the difference in yourself when you know vs when you don’t?
If you want something you’ve never had, you must first do something you’ve never done...
The way I think of meal planning (if it’s not your thing) is like starting at the gym. Some people love it; the rest of us don’t. But (generally speaking) – we all love the feeling once it is done. It is rewarding and satisfying and has health benefits - it feels damn good.
What Meal Planning Is Not
I think it’s worth a quick little chat about what meal planning is NOT too – as I know a few of these led to me procrastinating:
- It is not cooking everything from scratch 3 times a day (in fact it includes factoring in your takeaway meals!)
- It is not perfectly macro-balanced, better-for-you every single meal.
- It is not being locked in to eating what we said we’d eat.
- It is not spending every moment of free time prepping and cooking in the kitchen.
Of course it can be any and all of those things – but for me, meal planning is a flexible system that works for you and your family, to ease the mental load when it comes to answering What’s for Dinner? (or any other meal for that manner).
Flip the Script*
So if the scales have tipped and you’re ready to start - my first meal planning tip is to “flip the script” * so that the focus is on the feeling after you’ve done the planning…. You know the benefits, you’ve decided it’s time to do something differently – but what?!
You need a meal planning template (here’s one!!). Then find your happy spot in the house, your beverage of choice – and find just 20 minutes to sit on a Sunday, map out your week and your food. (I pick Sunday because it works well with the school week, but obviously you can choose whichever day works best for you). Make it like going to the gym – you know you’ll feel so much better once it's done.
Just like with starting the gym, don’t do it all at once. Start small – just mid-week dinners. Monday – Thursday. That’s it. It’s usually enough too because life happens and invites happen and etc etc. Start with family favourites too, and let’s work on incorporating new meals into the rotation soon.
From there you can build to getting cute with your Sunday dinners so they provide excellent lunches for the school & work week and more on the extra stuff later!
But for now – let’s just start with one week. And then another. And see how we go!
What’s your greatest stumbling block to meal planning?
*Phrase stolen shamelessly from Cobra Kai which this nostalgic Gen X Karate Kid lover just had to watch.