Want to know how to meal plan when you aren’t feeling up to it? Well, look for further! This article shares easy and new ways to help get meal planning done. Even when it’s the last thing you want to be doing.
”Instead of telling our young people to plan ahead, we should tell them to plan to be surprised.” -Dan in real life 2007 film
I don’t know about you, but meal planning isn’t really a strength of mine. As I matter of fact I would say I’m downright bad at it. I love cooking and finding new things to make, but trying to plan a whole week’s worth of meals? Not really something I’m a fan of, I don’t even plan out what I am going to eat in a day.
Rather I’m the kind of person who wanders into the kitchen at four o’clock and goes ‘what should we have for supper tonight?’ Not only am I the kind of person who isn’t good at meal planning. But I also don’t like meal planning for many reasons.
I don’t like to feel like I’m tied down in the kitchen. I don’t like having to stick to a plan. And I hate it when forgetting to take the meat out to thaw throws off the whole week’s meal plan. And frankly, I’m not good at sticking to a meal plan. But having grown up poor, and in a large family. Having been someone who’s worked more than one job at once, plus housework. I do understand that meal planning is important and though I hate it most of the time, it can be a lifesaver at other times.
At the moment I don’t have to do a lot of meal planning. (one of the many perks of still living at home.) But I still very often find myself stuck when I do have to meal plan. Which got me thinking, what are some ways I could make meal planning easier? Or better yet what are some ways I could skip the meal planning altogether and still come home with a good amount of stuff to cook and no random ingredients?
And that is how this post came about. I know this might not sound like the most helpful list of ways to make your meal planning easier. But you might also be surprised by how well some of these things work.
Know your seasons
Knowing what is in season and when is a skill I believe everyone who cooks should have. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference it makes in your cooking. And well it is nearly impossible to miss the changing of the seasons, especially in the midwest. I’ve come to learn that very few people actually know what food is in season and when.
Now you might be thinking what does this have to do with meal planning? And for a long time, I wondered the same thing. But I also learned that if you know what is in season it’ll be a lot easier to think up something to cook.
I have enough strawberry and rhubarb recipes to fill the months of June and July. If I know what ingredients are in season I will try to think up all the recipes I have and love that use those things. And I’m always surprised at how many there are.
Keeping a list of what is in season and when where you live, will help you build up a stockpile of recipes that fit into those seasons and make meal planning in turn a lot easier.
Not to mention cooking in season, is great for your budget!
Go to the store before you plan
Okay, I know, I know, this sounds completely backward after everything else I just said, but hear me out. I’m sure we were all taught the basic rules of grocery shopping, don’t leave the house without a list, and don’t go to the store when you are hungry. And those are great tips and great rules to live by. But sometimes when we are feeling tired or like we just don’t want to do something, we have to bend the rules a little bit.
I’m not saying go to the store and just buy random things that catch your eye. But rather go to the store and first get all the usual stapes, bread, milk, butter, eggs, cheese, and whatever meat you cook with regular. As you do this keep an eye out and look for things that catch your eye.
You might notice a bottle of stir-fry sauce, and remember that you haven’t made one in a while. You might see the peanut butter and remember that you need to get some and that in turn will remind you of recipes that use peanut butter.
And as you go through the store you’ll be surprised by how quickly your weekly meal plan fills up. And how easily you think up other recipes to make while trying to justify buying a certain ingredient.
It might sound a little strange and I understand it might not work for everyone. But if you are having a bad week, I would say give it a try, it might just work a lot better than you expected it to.
Ask a Friend(sister, Mum, etc.)
I can’t tell you how many times, my sisters, my mum, and I have shared recipes with each other. We are always sending each other random recipes we’ve made, someone told us about or one that we saw while scrolling on the internet. Not to mention the large pile of recipes we each have!
So if you are feeling burnt out in the kitchen, or need a few more meals to finish up the week’s meal plan. Or maybe you have an event to go to and aren’t sure what dish you should bring. Don’t be afraid to call or message your mum or a close friend, and ask if they have any ideas. Most of the time they are more than happy to give a few ideas, tell you what they’ve been cooking lately(or recipes they are planning to try.), and might even offer you a look at their meal plan for the week to give you some ideas.
Just be sure to have a few recipes to pass along the next time they call you!
These might seem like too simple of ideas, but they have proved themselves to be lifesavers time and time again. And they really do take a good bit of stress out of trying to meal plan, especially when you aren’t feeling up to the task.
Another quick tip, I guess we can call it a bonus tip. Is to keep a list, a cheat sheet so to speak of all your family’s favorite meals. Keep this list with your recipes, cookbooks, or better yet with your meal planning stuff.
These sheets also come in handy for those weeks when you aren’t sure what to make and finding recipes just doesn’t sound fun. Having tried and true recipes that you can fall back on makes life so much easier. And they always come in handy for the days when you have to meal plan but aren’t feeling up to it.