Do you want to know how to make me cranky? No, but I’ll tell you anyways. Send me to a grocery store, tell me to buy food for my family for the week, give me a limited budget, and tell me it needs to be gluten-free and mostly organic and healthy. Oh and have me do all that without a meal plan or grocery list.

Do you want to know who makes me do this week after week? Me. Myself. And I.

Why do I do this? Because I’m the world’s worst meal planner. I love to cook and I think I’m a pretty good cook, and some weeks I can even manage to pull a string of meals off effortlessly because the sales, schedule and my hormones magically align in harmony. But most weeks it’s more of a disaster.

meal planning

I’ll admit to some hyperbole there, but I really am not good at planning ahead. I work very well in moment-by-moment situations, going with my gut and intuition. Children however do not thrive in those types of situations, especially not my child. There are so many times we arrive at a mealtime with no plan and I freak out because there is so much pressure and not enough time to pull a meal together and we just grab food out or I make a quick dish that doesn’t taste good and I’m grumpy and feel ashamed and lousy. It’s awful.

Over the past few weeks I’ve embarked on some serious reinvention. After a year of surviving I’m ready to start thriving. I’ve started a house cleaning regimen, did a big furniture shuffle, started a new morning routine including exercise, cleaned up my diet with the Whole30 and now I’m working on my nemesis: meal planning.

I’ve done a little reading about the way other people plan. I honestly haven’t found it that helpful because the people who write such things usually do not have my personality so their suggestions don’t fit our lifestyle. I’ve read suggestions about cooking very simply and making the same meals on rotation, but that doesn’t work for me. Cooking flows out of my creativity so I need freedom to try new things, learn new techniques and experiment with flavors. I’ve decided to do what I can and at least schedule some meals, including breakfast and lunch, and see what happens. I can tweak it if this doesn’t work well. The most important thing is to at least have a plan!

On Saturday I grabbed a couple cookbooks at the Library for inspiration (even though I have over a dozen great ones at home). Yesterday I sat down and looked at our calendar for the week, thought about what’s in the fridge and freezer and what special meals we will need and I made a plan.

Update: I hashed through the meals I changed, but basically I kept to the plan and it worked well. 

Monday:

  • Eggs for me and yogurt/cereal for the boys
  • Pizza for Nathan and babysitter and sandwich for jason
  • Apricot-Mustard chicken (from Dinner: a Love Story), Mashed Potatoes, and Salad Frozen Corn

Tuesday (Forever Family Day):

  • Eggs for me and yogurt/cereal for boys
  • Sandwiches
  • Pasta with Simple Tomato Sauce and Salad Pasta Dinner @ Maggiano’s courtesy of a gift card
  • Mascarpone-filled Cake with chocolate icing from a jar (Inspired by Epicurious Cookbook but with a GF cake mix)

Wednesday (Jason off work)

  • Eggs for me and yogurt/cereal for boys
  • Picasso’s (after museum visit – we have a coupon)
  • Fish Cakes (from Dinner: A Love Story) with Tartar Sauce (Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook) and crudités

Thursday (Jason’s Birthday)

  • Eggs for me and yogurt/cereal for boys
  • Sandwiches
  • Mustard Salmon, Hasselback Potatoes (both from Nigella’s Forever Summer), and Broccoli

Friday

  • Eggs for me and yogurt/cereal for boys
  • Sandwiches
  • Dinner out

Some of these meals are new, but only one meal is from a cookbook I’m unfamiliar with. The others are from a tried and trusted cookbook (Dinner: A Love Story) that we know we will like. I’m excited to try this plan and I’ll give an update about it at the end of the week.

So I’m curious. Do you meal plan? What type of planning works for you? Do you like to eat the same things over and over or do you like to make new recipes?

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