Meal Planning Tips + My Secret Weapon

May 27, 2020 | Recipes

When it comes to meal planning, we could all use a few meal planning tips. Cooking and I have a love/hate relationship. There are days when it is soothing to my soul, and other days it’s like a ton of bricks on my shoulders. Let’s face it, just figuring out what to eat has been a chore. Today I have a simple yet powerful solution for you when you have to answer the question “What’s for dinner?”. It’s my secret weapon to reduce stress for everyone under the roof!

Do you have a plan when your family asks What's for Dinner?

What’s for dinner?

During my morning coffee time with my husband, I noticed when we ask each other what we want for dinner I start sweating. How could three little words stress me out? What’s for dinner?  

Starting the day out with these words was not doing me any favors. The problem? I didn’t know how to answer the question. Foods would start swirling in my mind with questions like What does Mark like? What can Dave eat? What is easy? What is healthy? Should we go out? But where? When can we all eat together? Hence, the sweat.

There are times in life when it’s actually nice to have someone tell you what you’re having for dinner instead of giving you a choice. Have you ever looked at all the different kinds of jelly and jam at the grocery store? There are a TON of them. How did we get to this point of too many choices?

So when someone asks me “What’s for dinner?” and I can’t answer that, it usually results in me thinking about it ALL DAY LONG. This can be a major distraction and a nuisance. If only I put more thought into meal planning!

How to answer the question

My fix to this madness is to have a piece of paper tell me what’s for dinner. Yep, a simple piece of paper. Of my meal planning tips, this is my #1.

When I have a plan in place, my stress level drops tremendously and I can move forward with my day. There are a couple of ways we can go about this. We can either look up meal plans online or we can create our own. Either way works. But to make life simple, just use my monthly guide and fill in the blanks. You can find my guide in Freebies. Some meal planners online can be overly complicated and have ingredients or items that are unrealistic.

Meal planning tips made simple, we’re not going to die

For my family, simply writing out the source of protein and one side dish does the trick. With that said, every Sunday I grab my piece of paper and write out the week’s meal plan, and if it’s like last week, so be it. No one is going to die.

When I plan I only plan dinner; breakfast and lunch are ‘whatever meals’ in my head. As long as I have healthy choices for the kiddos, I’m good.

As I said earlier, for dinner, I only pick a protein and maybe a side dish, then I fill in the gaps with what I have laying around. For instance, tonight, we’re having brats and green beans. I’ll probably fill in the gaps with either noodles or plain potato chips. Tomorrow we’re having salmon and baked potatoes, and I’ll probably throw in blueberries. The next day it’s grilled chicken and roasted butternut squash, and I’ll probably add some strawberries. Simple, easy, and good for our bodies.

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Grocery shopping made super simple

To save time and cravings at the grocery store, don’t go to the store. That’s right, now a day, there are people who will grocery shop for you! This is an incredible service, especially if you hate grocery shopping or you just can’t get to the store for other reasons.

My #2 meal planning tip is to shop wisely. Look for deals, and buy things in season. I have much more money-saving tips at the grocery store here. You gotta check it out…good stuff that saves you money!

But I have food sensitivities

My family is a bit unique. Remember the jelly and jams in the grocery store? Well, our specific diets went from being able to have many choices, to just a handful. Actually preparing meals, where we could eat anything, was a heck of a lot more stressful than being able to eat just a few things… the bright side to food allergies and sensitivities.

My son and I have limited menus due to inflammation in our bodies. Sure, we could continue to eat everything we wanted, but we would pay a huge price for it. It’s been my choice to reduce the inflammation in our bodies as much as I can by making a few changes in my diet. And it has been very effective and I don’t feel deprived!

My son and I can’t eat dairy or gluten (wheat, rye, barley). He also can’t have nuts. But I can. I can’t do eggs or soy, but he can. It gets really confusing. We both have gone through tests and we also went through food elimination to help us determine what we could eat and what would backfire. We want our bodies to heal, and in order to do that we must eliminate the triggers. So when it comes to meal planning, it actually becomes a little easier after you figure out what is causing issues! Yes, I said easier. How? There are fewer choices.

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But what if you don’t have a special diet to follow?

If you want to be healthy, stop weight gain, and put an end to cravings, eat like you meant it. Food is meant to fuel our bodies. Having food taste good is a bonus. When we cut back on processed and sugary foods, our bodies will be given a chance to heal and be happy.

As our body adjusts to a cleaner menu, our cravings will change from wanting junk to wanting pure food. You might be like, “Shut up Christy! I’m not doing that!” Friend, that’s the junk food talking, not you. Bad mood foods? Yes, they exist. Trans fats disrupt the balance of our omega-3 fatty acids, and when our omegas are low, it can lead to a bad mood. Not only that, but blood sugar can play a role in mood swings as well. When our nutrition is off, so is our frame of mind. I didn’t even talk about hormones and foods.

Meal planning tips in a nutshell

Circling back to taking the stress out of meal planning; simply use a pencil and my meal planner to extinguish the “What’s for dinner?” question. It’s okay if you have the same menu plan for a couple of weeks. We just need to feed our family wholesome foods.   

Post your planner on the refrigerator or a kitchen cupboard so everyone can see what the main meal will be for the night. Heck, you can even use a paper talking puppet to tell your little ones what’s for dinner. Download the Meal Planner in Freebies. Bon appétit!

Before you go, check out these other great posts:

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.    

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