So about a month ago I published a video and post about the crazy way that I plan out my meals for the entire year in one evening.
(If you don’t believe me, you can watch me do it here! :))
A lot of people really liked the concept and decided to try it out… but as I was talking with one of my subscribers, she mentioned that it was not going quite as well as she had hoped.
I realized that there are a couple of additional tips that could help, not only her but other people who are trying to implement a meal plan into their life as well.
So in this post, I’m going to go over some ideas for how to make your meal plan easier and how you can make it work for your situation!
Now before we get too far into this post, if you haven’t seen The Crazy Way I Meal Plan and 50 Theme Night Ideas for your Meal Plan, you may want to check out those two posts first to get a little context.
But for everyone who is ready to get started troubleshooting their meal plan, let’s get to it!
If you prefer to watch the video, you can check it out here:
What To Do If Your Meal Plan Isn’t Working
1) Customize Your Theme Night
The first thing you want to do is make sure your theme nights are customized to your life.
It can be really easy to read a post by someone on the internet and just think, “well this is working for them, I’ll just do exactly what they are doing.”
But that doesn’t always work because my meal plan is customized for my life… and everyone else on the internet’s meal plan is customized for their life.
So you can take the overall principles that I am sharing, but you want to make sure that the theme nights you are using are working for your current schedule and for how busy you are.
If for example, you had used the exact same theme nights that I did in my meal plan, you would realize that Tuesday and Thursday nights for us are easy nights. And that is because, Pre-Covid, those were our busiest nights of the week.
But your family may be busy on Monday and Wednesday so having easier meals on those nights would make more sense for you.
So if something like this is your problem, all you need to do is rearrange around your theme nights!
2) Simplify Your Theme Nights
Now, if you’ve tried moving around your theme nights and your meal plan still isn’t working for you, it’s also possible that you have too many difficult theme nights.
There is everything from eating the same exact same dish every Tuesday night (one of our theme nights), to eating a brand new meal every Wednesday (another one of our theme nights).
And there are a *whole bunch* of theme nights in between those two!!
When I was first creating my meal plan, I was really excited to try 6 different complex theme nights (because of course we still had our leftover day :)!
But then I realized that it just didn’t work well for my life. I also realized that I didn’t enjoy cooking that much, and I didn’t want to be cooking time-intensive meals every night of the week.
So if this sounds like where you may have gone wrong in your meal plan, go back to the theme night ideas post and choose some easier theme nights for your family.
PRO TIP: When you are starting out with meal planning and learning how to stick with it, it is better to go too easy with your theme nights than to have them be too complicated.
When you go easy you can always make it more complicated later if you are enjoying it and want to cook more…
But if you start out with things too complicated, you can easily get discouraged and give up on the meal plan.
So make sure that your theme nights fit your schedule, your life, your busyness, and even how much you like to cook.
If you don’t like to cook, there is no reason to spend a lot of time cooking every single night!
3) Create a Rotation
Another thing you can do is create a meal plan rotation.
But basically, you create a set of meals and rotate them at a regular interval.
So the easiest way to do this is to create a one-week rotation.
For a one-week rotation, you choose 6 meals (plus one leftover day) and you will repeat the same meals in the same order every single week.
A lot of minimalists out there suggest creating a very simple rotation because the truth is… this is the simplest way to plan your meals.
It takes very little time to plan, it takes very little time to implement, and it takes very little time to cook when you are planning your meals this way.
The reason that I don’t meal plan this way is because we all enjoy a wide variety of food and we wouldn’t like to eat the same meals over and over again.
If you would like to simplify your meal plan but think you might get bored eating the same thing every single week, you could also create a two-week rotation.
In that case, you would decide on 12 meals (plus one leftover day each week). Then you would go through the rotation twice a month.
You could also create a four-week rotation and repeat the meals once a month, every month of the year.
4) Have a Meal Prep Day
Now, if you would like to make your meal plan easier, but eating the same meal every week doesn’t sound fun, you can have a Meal Prep Day once a week.
Now I personally don’t do this because our weekends are busy. But if you have mellow weekends, this could be the solution to all of your meal planning problems!
When you have a prep day, you simply do all of your chopping ahead of time.
Then, each night of the week, all you have to do is the actual cooking of each meal.
This could work well for you if you are anything like me, and chopping takes you forever.
The bulk of my cooking time is spent chopping the vegetables for my meals. *Especially* if I am cooking something with onions in it… which is everything.
Onions make me cry, which means I can’t see what I am chopping, which means I have to stop chopping so that I can stop crying, then I have to start chopping again, which means I start crying again… it’s a whole thing.
But the point it, if you can do all of your chopping work ahead of time, it will save you a lot of time each week in the kitchen.
*PRO TIP* If you are chopping onions ahead of time, make sure you aren’t just putting them in a plastic bag. Your entire refrigerator will smell like onions. Don’t ask me how I know. Instead, put any prepped onions into a sealed glass container. You’re welcome. 😉
5) Create a Double Meals Rotation
The last trick that you can try if your meal plan isn’t working for you, is you can double your meals and use them in the future.
Now I know this doesn’t sound like we are making life easier… but stick with me, I’ve got a plan!
The first week that you do this, you are going to choose 4 meals that store well or freeze well, and you are going to double them.
Then the next week, you are going to eat those 4 meals.
On the other three nights, you are going to cook 3 meals and double them. And the following week you will eat the doubles, while only having to cook 4 meals… and so on.
So each week, you will be eating your doubles from the previous week, and only needing to cook on half of the nights.
Even though it is a little bit more work to do this the first week, it gets significantly easier as you go.
Again, this isn’t what we do at our house because I already double everything and we eat leftovers for lunches every day. But if your family prefers to eat sandwiches, or soups, or anything that you need to cook for lunch, this is a great option that will save you a lot of time in the dinner prep department.
So what do you think? Will any of these ideas work well for your family? Which ones do you want to try?
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!)
You Might Also Enjoy…
How to Use Theme Nights in Your Meal Plan… Plus 50 Theme Night Ideas and you can watch the video here.