How to Meal Plan for the Holidays like a Minimalist

How to Meal Plan for the Holidays like a Minimalist

Meal Planning at any time can be challenging…

But Meal Planning during the holidays can be downright stressful!

Not only are there usually more people that you are cooking for, but you are often hosting for multiple days at a time.

So how do you set up a killer meal plan that your family will love, without making yourself go crazy with all the extra work?

It’s not as hard as you think!

Here’s how it’s done:

1) Stick With The Routine

Breakfasts

If you typically use a simple weekday breakfast every day of the week, like I recommend in this post, then continue doing that!

You don’t have to prepare fancy breakfasts every day just because you have a company.

If you like to do more elaborate breakfasts on the weekend as I talk about in this post, go ahead and do that if you’d like, but don’t make things too complicated!

Since you will be doing a lot more cooking than usual during the holidays, I recommend doing easy breakfasts every day (aside from maybe a special brunch on Christmas Day.)

Lunches

If you eat leftovers for lunch every weekday as I recommend in this post and this one, you can still continue to do this when you have company there.

Especially since you will be putting in all the work of making delicious food every evening, it doesn’t hurt to get two meals out of each time you cook!

Just have an alternate easy meal ready for lunch each day that you have guests.. just in case you do not have enough leftovers.

Here are some examples of easy lunches that you can have on stand-by if needed:

  • Sandwiches
  • Salads
  • Casseroles
  • Soups
  • And any other Meals that are Easy to Make!

If you don’t end up using the easy meal for lunches because you had plenty of leftovers, use the food for dinners the following week after everyone leaves… then you can save yourself a trip to the grocery store and a bunch of extra time in the kitchen after a busy holiday… you’re welcome.

Dinner

If you are using my Set-It-And-Forget-It Meal Planning Technique and have created Theme Nights for every night of the week, don’t throw your plan out the window just because you have extra company… use it to your advantage.

Other than the specific holiday, like Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, keep all of your theme nights the same.

So if I were hosting the Thanksgiving Weekend at our house, it would look like this:

  • Thanksgiving Day: Special Holiday Family Meal
  • Friday Night: Build-It-Meal Night
  • Saturday Night: Dips and Chips/Crackers
  • Sunday Night: Family Favorites Night

So the only night of the week that changed was the Thanksgiving night meal.

When we have Christmas at our house, I like to do a special dinner on Christmas Eve, but I keep the other meals the same on Christmas Eve.

When we host Christmas Day, I like to have a special brunch in the morning, a light lunch, and a bigger holiday dinner. Or we will have Christmas “Dinner” around lunchtime and have a light supper… it isn’t always the same every year, but it is generally one of those two options!

2) Plan The Holiday Meal(s)

Look at How Many People are Coming

Take into account how many guests you will have for the big holiday meal… Thanksgiving Dinner, Christmas Dinner, Christmas Eve Dinner…etc.

Do a headcount and figure out how many people will be joining you for the meal.

Decide How Elaborate You Want to Be

Just because it is Thanksgiving or Christmas or whatever other holiday you are celebrating, doesn’t mean that you have to spend a day, or week, or month preparing for the dinner.

If your family loves pizza, and you want to eat that for your holiday dinner, so be it!

We like to get takeout Thai food or Chinese food on Christmas Eve because I will be cooking a lot the following day. (And because we love Thai and Chinese food… who am I kidding!)

Don’t feel like you have to follow any sort of rules, just do what works well for your family!

Decide on Your Main Dish

If you are having an involved meal (that is something more than takeout or pizza ;)), then you will want to decide on your main dish first.

Unless you adore cooking, I suggest only making one main dish (unless you can outsource as second main dish, see number 3 down below!).

Our main dish for all of our holiday meals is a vegan Special K Loaf. It’s a family favorite at our house and it goes well with mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce and traditional holiday side dishes.

Think About Your Side Dishes

You may feel like you have to have all the sides, especially if you are planning a traditional holiday meal… but side dishes are optional!

Think about which side dishes are important for you. Then throw out everything that you don’t love to eat or want to make (unless you can outsource it, see number 3 down below!).

Some side dishes that we love to have every holiday meal are:

  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Cranberry Sauce

Decide on Dessert

Decide on how many desserts and which desserts you would like to eat at your holiday meal (and throughout the weekend ;).

My must-have holiday dessert is an ah-MA-zing Key Lime Pie that my mom makes (if you aren’t afraid of making complicated healthy desserts, check this cookbook out! Everything we’ve tried out of it is divine.)

Most people like to have a few different options for dessert, but desserts can take a lot of time, energy, and oven space to make.

One easy way to have a lot of variety with your dessert is to have each family that is coming be responsible for providing one dessert in addition to anything else that they are bringing.

This also ensures that every family will have their favorite and no one will complain that you didn’t make their favorite dessert because they could have brought it themselves!

3) Determine Who Is Cooking What

Decide What You Are Making

When you are hosting, you get the first pick of what you want to make (yay!).

Many hosts like to provide the main dish, but it isn’t a must, especially if you know someone else who would enjoy making the main dish and do a great job with it.

After you decide if you are going to make the main dish or not, choose any side dishes that you want to make.

Ask For Help

Since most people don’t enjoy making decisions, instead of asking people what they want to bring, tell them what would be helpful for them to contribute to the meal.

Try to assign dishes to people who would be good at making them.

I always have my mom make the desserts because she does an amazing job and she is able to make desserts that fit with my wacky diet (vegan and sugar-free isn’t easy for most people to navigate!)

If someone coming doesn’t enjoy cooking, ask them to bring a salad or store-bought desserts.

But remember not to overload your guests. They may want to take a break from cooking if they are not hosting!

I find it helpful to list out all of the dishes that you want to have on a piece of paper and write down who will be in charge of each one.

Now send those texts or make phone calls to let people know what you want them to bring!

Decide What You Are Buying

If you aren’t able to make or delegate all of your dishes (or you just want a break from cooking altogether!) you can purchase just about anything that you want for your holiday meal at most grocery stores.

But be sure to order in advance so that you don’t have to worry about things being out of stock on the busiest grocery days of the year.

And that’s all it takes to create your amazing holiday weekend meal plan!

I’d love to hear what you are going to have for your holiday meal! Let me know in the comments below!

Are You Ready to Stop Feeling Stressed About Meal Planning?

Then check out Set-It-And-Forget-It Meal Planning!

In Set-it-and-Forget-it Meal Planning, you will learn how to plan your meals without feeling overwhelmed, spend less time in the kitchen, and feed your family healthy meals (while still having time for yourself!)

Set-It-And-Forget-It Meal Planning walks you through my unique method for setting up your meal plan so you will never have to start from square one again!

Plus you will receive a Set-It-And-Forget-It Meal Planning Template and email support from me anytime you have questions.

I hope to see you inside the course!

(Or if you are more of a do-it-yourself kind of gal, you can just grab the Set-It-and-Forget-It Template and work through it yourself. 🙂

You May Also Enjoy…

If you’d like to set up your own weekly theme nights, check out The Secret to Meal Planning for the Absolute Beginner | Plus 50 Theme Night Ideas for Your Meal Plan.

If you want a step-by-step guide for setting up your meal plan, check out How to Begin Meal Planning When You Don’t Know Where to Start.

For ideas about how to eat everything you buy, read How to Work Leftovers into Your Meal Plan.

If you want to learn more about Decision Fatigue, check out Why Is Meal Planning so Difficult.

For Quick, Healthy Breakfast Ideas, read How to Get Started Planning Quick Healthy Breakfasts.

Enjoy the Giggles
The Secret to Meal Planning for the Absolute Beginner | Plus 50 Theme Night Ideas for Your Meal Plan

The Secret to Meal Planning for the Absolute Beginner | Plus 50 Theme Night Ideas for Your Meal Plan

Meal Planning didn’t come easily for me.

I tried everything, but every time I sat down to plan my weekly meals I felt like I had such a huge task ahead of me because it took forever to make the plan.

Every time I would tell myself that I was going to plan the meals quickly this time… but it didn’t work.

I tried looking through my cookbooks. But everything looked good, and I couldn’t decide.

I tried scrolling through Pinterest. But I would find myself still scrolling much later with hardly any progress made.

I would give up on meal planning and try to decide at the grocery store and get food that sounded good, looked good, or for just in case I felt like making it. But we would spend so much more money on food because we never felt like eating the “just in case” food and it would just sit in the back of my pantry.

I tried giving up and just asking Ross what he wanted for dinner. He would always answer “lasagna” AKA my least favorite food to make or to cook…

Then one day I thought of a different plan.

We had been married for 5 years and had a new baby and meal planning hadn’t become any easier for me. But now I had new motivation to figure this out.

I wanted my daughter to grow up remembering special meals that we ate together, instead of me throwing together the most convenient food every night.

I wanted her to remember that we had fun cooking together, instead of me staring into the pantry and fridge for inspiration only to decide on the quickest thing.

And I wanted her to learn to eat new food willingly, instead of being stuck in a food rut because we only ate the same 3 meals all the time.

So I sat down to figure out if there was a way I could meal plan without having to meal plan all the time… and it turned out that there was.

I decided that I was going to plan out my entire year of meals so that I wouldn’t have to think about it again through the year, and all I would have to do is make a grocery list every week.

I know, I’m kind of crazy! Who thinks that if they don’t enjoy doing something that they should do it a whole bunch and see if they like it better? Apparently this girl!

But as I sat down to plan my meals for the next year, I stumbled upon the greatest Meal Planning Hack of all time!

I knew that I needed to organize my meal planning in some way to make this more efficient, so I decided to assign each day a Theme. And to my surprise, it worked!

How it Works

When you meal plan with theme nights, all you do is pick one theme for each night of the week.

Technically you could choose 14 and have a bi-weekly rotation, but if you want to meal plan for a longer-term, I suggest choosing only 7. It’s just easier to keep track of!

Then when you meal plan, all you have to do is choose a meal that corresponds to that theme.

So, for example, if I chose to have a Thai Food Night on Thursday, then every Thursday of the year I would choose a Thai meal for that night.

Why It Works

One of the main reasons that we struggle with meal planning as moms is the decision fatigue that we have from making decisions for ourselves and our families all. day. long.

When you meal plan with theme nights, it reduces the choices you have to make for each night of your meal plan.

Instead of having every meal that has ever been made as an option, you have narrowed down the type of meals that you are searching for.

So if we had that Thai Theme Night on Thursday, we would look through our cookbooks or on Pinterest for Thai Food (or Plant-Based Thai Food in my case). Then for each dish that looked good, we would simply put it on the calendar on any Thursday that we wanted to.

This also solves another common problem with Meal Planning.

Often the reason we can’t decide on a dish is that they all look so good.

When you meal plan with theme nights, it’s ok if you want to make them all!

Just flip to the next week on your calendar and write down a different meal that you want to make.

Now you already have a head start on Meal Planning for next week (or next month if you find a few!)

How to Start

To start meal planning with theme nights, just pick 7 theme nights for your week!

I compiled a list of 50 theme night ideas for you, but if you have any other favorite theme night ideas that I forgot to mention, put it in the comments below! I’d love to hear your ideas!

Be sure to grab the Easy Meal Planning Checklist and check out Set-It-And-Forget-It Meal Planning for a step-by-step guide to completely simplifying your meal plan!

50 Theme Night Ideas for Your Meal Plan

I’ve broken down the theme nights into categories so you can see how much you can do with Theme Nights.

You can choose 7 theme nights from one category, or you can choose one from each category. There is no right or wrong way to do it!

The only suggestion I make is that everyone has a Leftover Night on their calendar every week, or at least some plan for how to incorporate their leftovers, but you can check out this post for more ideas on that!

Specific Meal Theme Nights

This type of theme night is when you choose one specific meal that you make every single week. We use this type of theme night for Tuesday nights in our house.

Every Tuesday, we eat our homemade, vegan macaroni and cheese.

Why do we do the same exact meal every Tuesday night? Because Miss Claire has swimming lessons on Tuesday and Thursday nights. So I know that I need easy meals on those nights.

Having Macaroni and Cheese every Tuesday was an easy choice for our Tuesday night theme because it’s easy, it’s healthy, and our whole family loves it.

Here are some specific meal ideas to get you started:

  1. Macaroni and Cheese
  2. Haystacks
  3. Burgers
  4. Special K Loaf
  5. Green Curry
  6. Daal
  7. Lentil Soup

Variety Meals

In this type of theme night, you use the same base of the meal, but can change anything else about it.

For example, you could have a pasta night. The only thing that stays the same about pasta night from week to week is that it has pasta in the meal.

One way that you can customize a pasta night is by changing the type of pasta that you use. For one pasta night you could use spaghetti, another elbow macaroni, another bow ties, another pinwheels, another pappardelle… you get the idea.

Another way that you can customize a pasta night is by changing the type of sauce that you use. You could have pasta with red sauce, with pesto sauce, with alfredo sauce, with veggies…and so on.

Here are few Variety Meals ideas for you:

  1. Pasta Night
  2. Casserole Night
  3. Sandwich Night
  4. Soup Night
  5. Pizza Night
  6. Salad Night
  7. Potato Night
  8. Rice Night
  9. Taco Night
  10. Curry Night
  11. Cold Cereal Night (Another One of Ross’s favorites!)

Category Theme Nights

For the category theme nights, the genre of the food stays the same, but the base can change.

The example that we talked about in the into, Thai food on Thursday nights, is an example of this type of meal planning.

And within the theme of eating Thai food, on Thursday nights, there can be a log of variety. You could have Pad Thai, Pad See Ewe, Red Curry, Yellow Curry, Green Curry, Pineapple Curry, Pumpkin Curry, Curry Noodles, Thai Basil Stir Fry… you get the idea!

  1. Thai Food Night
  2. Italian Food Night
  3. Asian Food Night
  4. Indian Food Night
  5. American Food Night
  6. Ethnic Food Night
  7. Comfort Food Night
  8. Fried Food Night
  9. Build-It Meals
  10. Breakfast for Dinner
  11. Picnic Food Night
  12. Dips and Crackers/Chips

Different Protein Nights

If we did a specific protein night at our house, it would look like having a tofu, tempeh, or beans night. But you could also do this with meat.

With this type of theme night, the only thing that stays the same is the type of protein you choose to make.

Protein night Ideas:

  1. Tofu Night
  2. Tempeh Night
  3. Beans Night
  4. Chicken Night
  5. Beef Night
  6. Seafood Night

Seasonal Theme Nights

You may want to have 1- 3 nights of the week that change with the seasons (I wouldn’t recommend more than 3 nights for simplicity’s sake).

On these nights, you would choose one type of meals for spring (maybe salads) a different type for summer (like grilling), something different for Autumn (like soups) and something different for winter (possibly casseroles).

Seasonal Theme Night Ideas:

  1. Tailgate Food
  2. Grilling Food
  3. Fair Food
  4. Picnic Food
  5. Soup Night
  6. Salad Night
  7. Sandwich Night

New Meal Night

We are foodies in our family. We enjoy talking about food, eating food, and trying new food.

My two-year-old usually asks me what we are having for supper several times throughout the day.

Because of this, I make a new meal every Wednesday night

But you could further narrow this down if you want to try new meals from your amazing-looking “someday I’ll eat this” Pinterest Board, you could use the cookbooks you already have, you could try new restaurants or just a new meal at your favorite restaurant where you always order the same thing!

  1. New Meal from Pinterest
  2. New Meal from Cookbooks
  3. New Restaurant Night
  4. New Type of Food Night
  5. New Meal at your Favorite Restaurant Night

No-Cooking Nights

Everyone needs a night off! In my house, this is Leftover Night on Thursday nights.

If your family likes to go out to eat, write it on the calendar. It will be easier to cook at home more if you know that you get to go out to eat on a night or two during the week.

If you tend to grab fast food so much that it is hurting your budget, choose a fast food night so you can still enjoy it without doing it all the time.

  1. Leftover Night
  2. Out To Eat Night
  3. Take Out Night
  4. Fast Food Night

Family Choice Nights

There are several ways that you can do a family choice night. You can either have it be a family favorite, or you could assign a night of the week to a specific person.

If I had a “Ross’s Favorite Night” at our house, he would probably choose lasagna a lot mixed in with some Breakfast for Dinner Options and a few Cold Cereal for Dinner Nights. (Sorry, Ross, I’ll try to cook more lasagna!)

But this can be a fun way to get your children involved in the meal planning too! Give each child a night of the week, and every week they get to pick the meal for that night.

  1. Family Favorites
  2. Mom’s Choice Night
  3. Dad’s Choice Night
  4. Kid’s Choice Night
  5. Grandma’s Best Recipes

Snack Food Theme Nights

We do snack food nights on Saturday nights at our house because we usually eat a large, late lunch and aren’t in the mood for a big dinner. And we often play board games together on Saturday nights.

If your family has a game night or a movie night every week, this is a great meal with easy set up and clean up!

  1. Snack Food Night
  2. Chips/Crackers and Dips
  3. Popcorn and Smoothies
  4. Cold Cereal Night

What Theme Nights are you going to use in your meal plan? Leave a comment and let me know!

Don’t forget to grab the meal planning workbook to organize your meal plan!

Are You Ready to Stop Feeling Stressed About Meal Planning?

Then check out Set-It-And-Forget-It Meal Planning!

In Set-it-and-Forget-it Meal Planning, you will learn how to plan your meals without overwhelm, spend less time in the kitchen, and feed your family healthy meals (while still having time for yourself!)

Set-It-And-Forget-It Meal Planning walks you through my unique method for setting up your meal plan so you will never have to start from square one again!

Plus you will receive a Set-It-And-Forget-It Meal Planning Template and email support from me anytime you have questions.

I hope to see you inside the course!

(Or if you are more of a do-it-yourself kind of gal, you can just grab the Set-It-and-Forget-It Template and work through it yourself. 🙂

You May Also Enjoy…

If you want a step-by-step guide for setting up your meal plan, check out How to Begin Meal Planning When You Don’t Know Where to Start.

For ideas about how to eat everything you buy, read How to Work Leftovers into Your Meal Plan.

If you want to learn more about Dicision Fatigue, check out Why Is Meal Planning so Difficult.

For Quick, Healthy Breakfast Ideas, read How to Get Started Planning Quick Healthy Breakfasts.

And if you want to see how I plan my meals, check out The Crazy Way I Meal Plan!

Enjoy the Giggles

The Pros and Cons of Meal Planning for Moms: How to Know if Menu Planning is Right for You!

The Pros and Cons of Meal Planning for Moms: How to Know if Menu Planning is Right for You!

Why Busy Moms Should Start Meal Planning: Plus a Free Beginner's Meal Planning Checklist

If you’ve been on Pinterest for more than 5 minutes, you’ve probably run into about 893 people trying to tell you how to meal plan. 

There are blog posts about How to Begin Meal PlanningHow to Menu Plan With the SeasonsHow to Meal Plan so You Will Eat Your LeftoversMenu Planning for Breakfast, for Lunch, and Dinner; Meal Plans that are Vegan, Paleo, Keto Meal Plans, Gluten-Free Meal Plans, Meal Plans for a Month… a Week… Six Weeks… or even a Year!

But why is there even so much hubbub about meal planning in the first place?

I mean, is there even a payoff for the time and energy that meal planning requires?

In this post, I am going to take a closer look at the pros and cons of meal planning and see if the benefits of meal planning truly outweigh the effort that it takes.

So here is a super honest look at meal planning, from someone who meal plans. A lot. 

Meal Planning Pros

1) Meal Planning Saves Money

Purchasing food can be the sneakiest way for money to leave your bank account without you even knowing it. 

It’s like your grocery money became a teenager and decided to go out to eat, even though you told it to stay home instead.

Between last minute trips to the grocery store to buy “one quick item,” and loading the family into the car to go out to eat for the third time this week because you don’t feel like cooking, your grocery budget can get out of control.

Meal Planning, and using your meal plan to prepare a grocery list (see number 2 below!) can save you so much money in the long run.

How much money will you save? That will depend on if you have been going out to eat for the majority of your meals instead of eating at home, or if you’ve been buying more food than you can eat at the grocery store.

We can feed our family of four people with massive appetites on a plant-based diet for between $100-$125 a week. When we go out to eat occasionally, we can easily spend $40-$50 per meal (I told you our kids are crazy big eaters, even our 18-month old needs her own plate now.)

That means, for the same amount of money, we could purchase 2-3 meals going out to eat, or 21 meals that we could eat at home!!

If you would like to see exactly how to set your monthly food budget, check out this post. And if you want to see how to reduce your grocery expenses, read 37 Ways to Save Money on Groceries.

Since we only purchase what we will eat in a week, it saves us money because we actually eat what we purchase.

Plus it prevents food from expiring in the pantry, from going bad in the fridge, or from getting lost at the bottom of the freezer. 

The only exception is that we pick and freeze a lot of fresh fruit in the summer. But my rule is that the freezer to be completely empty by the time strawberry season rolls around so that I can fill it back up.

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2) It Makes Grocery Shopping is Easier

I don’t know about you, but grocery shopping is my least favorite chore. (When I made My Simple Weekly Cleaning Schedule, I wrote grocery shopping down as one of the chores that I need to accomplish each week… because that’s exactly how I feel about it!)

If you are like my husband, who enjoys going up and down the isles looking for fun new things to try, this point may not seem like much for you. I, on the other hand, would meal plan for this reason alone: grocery shopping becomes infinitely more simple when you go with a plan in place.

The only catch to this one, is that you have to make the list using your meal plan, take the list with you when you leave the house, and use it at the grocery store.

Doing that tiny little bit of work ahead of time will save you time, money, and stress at the grocery store. 

You won’t be wandering up and down every isle seeing if there is anything you forgot to write down; you won’t be buying something that you never end up using because you decide to go out to eat again; and you won’t be wondering if you need 3 loaves of bread or 2. 

How Meal Planning Can Save Time for Busy Moms: 9 Reasons to Get Started Menu Planning Today. Plus a Free Beginner's Meal Planning Checklist!

3) Meal Planning Saves You Time

Can I tell you a secret? 

I don’t enjoy meal planning.

Phew, thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

But here’s the thing, if I don’t enjoy meal planning, why would I want to spend my precious time every single day deciding what to make before I can cook?

If you don’t plan your meals in advance, you are looking at spending 5-10 minutes before breakfast and lunch deciding what to make. Then you will probably spend another 10-20 minutes figuring out what to cook for dinner. That’s up to 40 minutes a day figuring out what food to eat. 

FORTY MINUTES A DAY!!

I don’t know about you, but I can think of at least 12 other things that I would rather do with forty minutes a day.

4) It Can Help You Eat Healthier

Since meal planning will encourage you to eat at home more often, you will most likely be eating healthier.

I don’t think I need to convince you that eating out isn’t generally the healthiest choice. Obviously, this depends on what you eat when you go out, but as a general rule, the healthiest meals are made at home.

If you plan your meals ahead of time, you are setting yourself up for success if you are looking to eat a healthier diet.

5) Meal Planning Reduces Your Stress

If you struggle to choose a balanced meal to cook for your family every evening, it is probably stressful.

You may try to outsource that stress to your spouse, your best friend, the love of your life, by asking a simple question: “What would you like for dinner?”

To which they helpfully answer: “I don’t know.”

You respond with: “I don’t know how to make that,” and the search continues.

As it gets closer to dinner time you feel the pressure mounting. You have to get something together for your tiny humans to eat so that you can send them to bed and have a little downtime. If you don’t start soon, it will be a late supper which will consist of cranky kids and a tired you.

At this point, your significant other tries to be helpful and offers a suggestion: “You know what sounds good? Lasagna ”

Thanks, Sweetheart, that was helpful. I would have needed to start that hours ago.

This was my reality almost every night before I started meal planning. It stressed me out and made me frustrated.

Once, I said “Hello” to meal planning, I said “Goodbye” to a lot of stress.

Why Moms Should Start Meal Planning This Year! How to Know if Meal Planning is Right For You. Plus a Printable Beginner's Meal Planning Checklist

6) It Can Help You Eat Your Leftovers

Throwing food away is not only frustrating, it wastes our time, money, and resources…yikes!

I think I’d rather hang on to all of those things.

When you meal plan, you will can waste so much less food.

In our meal plan, we eat leftovers for lunch every day of the week, unless we don’t have any leftovers, then lunch is something simple, like a sandwich. In addition to eating leftovers for lunch every day, we also have leftovers every Thursday night. 

And if our fridge is bursting at the seams with leftovers, then we also eat them on Tuesday night.

How do we have so many leftovers at our house? Simple, I double everything! It takes so little extra time and money to double a recipe and it gives your family so much more food!

Check out this post for How to Reduce Your Food Waste by Eating Your Leftovers.

7) You Will Have Less Decision Fatigue

I think the reason we struggle so much with the question “what’s for dinner?”, is that we have so many decisions to make every single day.

Do we need to get some toilet paper? Awesome, there are 24 varieties to choose from.

Do you like to use toothpaste? Great, another 87 choices for you to whittle down.

You’d like a healthy option for your family for dinner? Well, with the help of the internet, there are only 467,987,872 things that you can make!

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. (Which reminds me, we also have too many choices for lettuce!)

Meal planning gives you three less decisions each day because you made them for yourself in advance. 

That’s a good enough reason for me to keep menu planning right there!

8) Your Family Will Love It

We are foodies at our house. We generally plan our camping weekends around our meals and will take entire days to make fresh pasta even though we are well aware that you can purchase it at the store for almost nothing.

Often during breakfast, my oldest daughter will ask me what we are having for dinner. When Ross is on his lunch break or driving home from work he calls me and asks what we are having for dinner. And though my younger daughter is still a little young to ask, she shouts suggestions for everyone to hear as soon as she starts getting hungry (“Sloppy Joes,” “Lentil Soup,” “Cake,” etc.,)

The wonderful part about meal planning is that I already know the answer to the questions.

Maybe your family isn’t as into food as mine is, and maybe they won’t be as thrilled when you reveal the menu for the evening, but you can still use this to your advantage.

If anyone complains about what you have planned, just let them know that you’re sorry but it’s already written on the menu and you aren’t at liberty to change it.

9) Having Company Just Got Easier

I used to worry about what to make when company was coming over. I would try to find the perfect thing that my guests would love. And inevitably someone still wouldn’t like it. 

Now I just stick with my meal plan. If I have someone coming over on a leftover day, I will just switch the menu with the night before or after.

That was easy!

The Pros and Cons of Meal Planning for Busy Moms: 9 Reasons to Get Started Menu Planning Today. Plus a Free Beginner's Meal Planning Checklist

Cons of Meal Planning:

1) Meal Planning Takes Time

There’s really no way around it. Unless you hire someone else to do this for you, Meal Planning is going to take some time.

I have found that the more meals I plan in one sitting, the less time it takes to decide on each meal.

I think there are a few reasons for this:

1. I don’t have to figure out which food I am in the mood for right now.

If I am deciding between making Burritos, Tacos, Nachos, Quesadillas, Enchiladas, or Fajitas for dinner tonight, I have to decide which one of these things sounds best to me right now.

But If I am planning my weekly dinner menu, I can have Burritos on Monday, Tacos on Tuesday, Nachos on Wednesday, Leftovers on Thursday, Quesadillas on Friday, Enchiladas on Saturday, and Fajitas on Sunday.

I went from deciding on one meal to getting to eat all of the six meals that sound good to me over the course of the week.

(Is anyone else wanting Mexican food right now!?)

2. It is easier for me to decide something for my future self.

I used to have a Pinterest board full of delicious-looking recipes that I hoped to try one day. The only problem was that “one day” never comes. 

When I started meal planning, I decided that every Wednesday night was going to be “new recipe night” at our house. 

I went through my boards and cookbooks and found everything that I wanted to try *someday* and wrote one down on every Wednesday in my calendar. 

When that week would come, I would get the recipe out, write down the ingredients on my shopping list, and make the new recipe on Wednesday.

If I had waited until that day to decide what to make, I probably would have gone for the easiest recipe that featured ingredients that I already had on hand. But since I had made the decision in the past, it was easier for me to follow through on it.

2) Meal Planning Takes Energy

It takes mental energy to sit down and make decisions. And Meal Planning is all about making decisions.

I know, I know, who has time for more decisions?

Here’s the thing: just like buying in bulk can save you money, making decisions in bulk can save energy.

Once you are already in the decision-making mode, it is easier to keep making similar decisions.

So the question is how much energy would you like to use and how often? If you would like to use a little bit of energy for menu planning every day, that’s totally cool if it works for you and you are happy with it. 

Or you can use slightly more energy once a week, or month, or 6 weeks…or year if you like to take things to the extreme as I do!

Then you can sit back and kick your feet up instead of scrambling around trying to decide what to make… unless of course, you’re a mom. Then you probably need to go take someone potty or help your children clean up their toys before dinner. But that still sounds way more fun to me than having to decide what to make for dinner!

When I’m making a decision I like to list out the pros and cons together to get a better idea of which list is greater, so here’s a quick recap for you:

The Pros and Cons of Meal Planning for Moms. How to Know if Menu Planning is Right for you. Plus a Free Beginner's Meal Planning Checklist!

Meal Planning Pros:

  1. Meal Planning Saves Money
  2. It Makes Grocery Shopping Easier
  3. Menu Planning Saves Time
  4. It Can Help You Eat Healthier
  5. Meal Planning Reduces Stress
  6. It Can Help You Eat Your Leftovers
  7. You Will Have Less Decision Fatigue
  8. Your Family Will Love It
  9. Having Company Just Got Easier

Meal Planning Cons:

  1. Meal Planning Takes Time
  2. Meal Planning Takes Energy

You May Also Enjoy…

If you’re ready to get started with a step-by-step guide to meal planning, read How to Begin Meal Planning When You Don’t Know Where to Start.

If you’d like some ideas for how to make breakfast easier, check out Weekly Meal Planning for Beginners, How to Get Started With Quick Healthy Breakfasts.

To learn how to save money, cook less, and have easy lunches, read How to Work Leftovers Into Your Meal Plan.

If you want to take saving money on groceries to the next level, check out 37 Ways to Save Money on Groceries.

If you’d like to try Seasonal Meal Planning, the Ultimate Guide to Seasonal Meal Planning will get you started.

Want 7 Extra Hours Every Week? Grab the Streamline Your Home Quick-Start Guide

Ready to Stop Feeling Stressed About Meal Planning?

Then check out Set-It-And-Forget-It Meal Planning!

In Set-it-and-Forget-it Meal Planning, you will learn how to 

  • Create a Breakfast Rotation
  • Create a Lunch Rotation
  • Create a Snack Rotation
  • Choose Theme Nights
  • Create Rotations for Each Theme Night
  • Fill in Your Meal Planning Calendar

Set-It-And-Forget-It Meal Planning walks you through my unique method for setting up your meal plan so you will never have to start from square one again!

Plus you will receive the Set-It-And-Forget-It Meal Planning Workbook and Spreadsheet and email support from me anytime you have questions.

I hope to see you inside the course!

(Or if you are more of a do-it-yourself kind of gal, you can check out my DIY Meal Planning Resources!)

See you on the next one! Kassy
How Meal Planning Saves Money and other reasons to try Meal Planning. Plus a Free Beginner's MEal Planning Checklist.
Why Meal Planning Will Save Moms Time, Money, and Stress. 9 Reasons to Get Started Menu Planning Today
Why You Should Try Meal Planning: 9 Reasons to Try Menu Planning! Plus a FRee Beginner's Meal Planning Checklist
Why is Meal Planning Important for Busy Moms: 9 Reasons to try Meal Planning When you are Stressed and Overwhelmed. Plus a Beginner's Meal Planning Checklist
Why you should start Meal Planning When You're on a Tight Budget: Plus a Free Budginner's Meal Planning Checklist