Meal Planning – love it or hate it?
A quest to re-invent my meal planning with more nutritious and wholesome recipes has been a dismal failure for the last 12 months, and I now realize why.
My recipe files are overflowing with the latest back to basics, wholefood trends, and I have been overwhelmed by CHOICE!
As my health journey progressed my attention to new wholesome recipes became an addiction. The problem is out of the hundreds of recipes I have printed I have probably only tried a handful and the reason, apart from spending all the time printing out new found “favorites’ rather than cooking them, is too much CHOICE.
The internet and Facebook pages are full of delicious, wholesome, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, vegan, paleo, low carb… (insert your preference) recipes and they all look amazing but how will I ever know if they truly are delicious if I don’t actually get to make them?
I realize that my regular meal plan was perfectly fine to start with but the desire to “re-invent” it, “super-charge” it, and “inject new life” into it totally backfired. Amidst the “what’s for dinner?”, “not something new again”, and “what happened to our old meals?” from the kids, I was drowning in 50 recipes for Spaghetti Bolognaise [slight exaggeration but you get what I mean 😊] so I fell into paralysis by analysis and then I would find another “must try” recipe to add to the pile.
As I coach others on making meal planning easier it has helped me to step back and look at what worked for me, what clearly hasn’t, and come up with a simple strategy to cope with the influx of tempting delights we see daily.
TOP TIP – Keep it simple
- Start with the BASICS – utilize the family favorites first
- Choose ONE DAY for your “new” recipe
- SAVE your recipes into files online or on your computer for quick reference. Beef, Chicken, Vegetarian, Salad, Baking, Basics, etc. whatever works for you. Fill up your hard drive, not your bookshelf. Let’s face it, it is actually easier to find a recipe if you’ve saved it to a file rather than searching through 100’s of printed recipes even if your filing system is immaculate.
- Choose ONE RECIPE – When it’s time to try a new recipe, search it up and just choose one, test it out and if it’s a success keep it for next time and add it to your regular meal plan. If it’s a dud, not the right fit for you or the family, delete it. It might look great but take too long to prepare, the ingredients might be too hard to find, too fiddly, too spicy, too bland, too crumbly, whatever it is, accept it just isn’t the right fit for you and move on.
- LIMIT yourself if you need to so the overwhelm of too much choice, too many options, doesn’t take hold.
- COMMIT to it, add it to your next meal plan so you try it while it is fresh in your mind, the longer you “keep it” the more likely you are to forget and find another just like it.
Confession time! I really need to tame my recipe files, I now have a “new recipes to try file”, and a “must try first” file, not to mention a few others which are saved by the author. I think I need a recipe detox!
Time to get back in control and tame the recipe monster!
My latest attempt at organization includes a cheap simple Display Book with my meal plan in the front and the shopping list second, followed by the recipes I need for the meal plan. I have two recipes for snacks and two for extras like granola, or freezer recipes, whatever my focus is on that week. When I’ve tested them they either stay as a new favorite or they go. Less choice, less distraction.
What have you found works for you?
If you are like me, preparing nourishing food for your family is important, it is part of caring for your family, loving your family and being a homemaker. Yet you want to keep it exciting, add variety, introduce new fresh wholesome flavors to expand the taste buds, all while maintaining our sanity and juggling however many other responsibilities we have, not to mention cater for everyone’s tastes or dietary needs.
With the endless variety we have available to us today it is easy to “want to try them all” but there’s no use wanting them all when we don’t have the time to follow through with even one or sacrificing the nutritious plan we had with the aim of creating something better and it all falling apart.
There are many ways to prepare your meal plan for the week and I’m sure many people “wing it” each night as the “what’s for dinner?” call echoes through the home.
What works for me and my family might not work for you, this is my latest attempt.
Are you looking for some meal planning and food preparation tips?
Are you ready to get serious about meal planning but not sure where to start? I just learned that @RealPlans, my favorite meal planning app has a brand new 10-day meal planning challenge…and it’s free! Sign up to get daily tips and helpful worksheets that will take your meal planning skills from basic to guru-level in less than two weeks. Register HERE for Free!
Happy meal planning 🙂
Elke @ Abundant Wholeness