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Does planning meals for the week stress you out? Try this little trick.

If you enjoy cooking and putting meals together, I truly envy you. That is not a skill I have ever developed or learned to enjoy. Consequently it is a challenge for me to put together a meal for dinner, much less an entire week of meal planning to include the dreaded shopping list for these meals. All of this gave me heart palpitations and stress. My goal though was for my family and I to eat better, so for years I have tried to work at enjoying cooking and putting together a plan for the week. Everything I tried felt too complicated, too confusing, or too much work on top of an already busy work and family schedule. Since my husband doesn’t cook either, I felt even more pressure to make planning healthy meals for the family my priority.

Because I am not that creative at cooking and do not really enjoy it, when I find something easy and healthy to make, I make it often! Which unfortunately left our kids doomed to eat the same thing over and over again. My failure at meal planning only left me feeling guilty and more stressed because I felt like I had failed my family and myself. This wasn’t going in a good direction!

The pressure would mount around 4 pm in the afternoon when one of our teenagers would come to me with the dreaded question “So Mom, what’s for dinner??” My response was usually “Great question, I have no idea. Any leftovers in the fridge?” That usually didn’t go over very well. Now they are hungry, and I am stressed. I still have work to do, but I do need to get something going for dinner. In your shoes reading this, my response here might be, well, they need to make something for themselves. & I would agree with you 100%. Many times they do. However, I am still a mom who wants them to eat better and leaving it 100% up to them is not going to instill the long term healthy eating habits that are going to make them better at food selection if I do not show them some of this first. That is after all, part of parenting. Plus, I want all of us to eat better.

The Chalkboard

Then one day, on a webinar, I saw someone’s chalkboard in their kitchen. My thought, what a great idea! See a big part of my problem was that I was doing this all by myself. I hadn’t enlisted my family’s help in planning the meals until that dreaded 4 pm question was upon me. And then it was a like watching a tennis match of:

“Well, what do you want to eat”

“I don’t know, what do we have?”

“Have you looked in the refrigerator?”


“Ok, how about tacos?”

“Again? We had that two days ago”


And so on…

Now, as a family we sit down in the kitchen on Sunday to plan out our meals for the week. I bought a $9.99 chalkboard from Hobby Lobby, nothing special, and chalk pens because my daughter loves writing with them. We wrote out the days of the week and discuss what we are going to have each day as we prep the list for grocery shopping. Now our shopping list got a little easier to put together as well, because as my daughter and I would plan the meals, my husband and son would roam around the kitchen looking for ingredients. Which is kinda entertaining to watch.

Not only do I no longer have the dreaded 4 pm question and have to scramble to defrost chicken, I can send the kids to the board and have them start helping put dinner together. Plus I have a plan to follow for the next day. So if chicken needs to be defrosted it can be pulled out the night before. I know this sounds so simple, and it is, that it is the point. Making life easy for yourself by using little gimmicks can significantly reduce your stress level and make for a much smoother ending to your already hectic day!

Bonus! By having the family with me planning the meals, I no longer hear “Yuck” “I don’t like xyz” or “We’re having that again?” Especially regarding tacos, since this was my go-to meal over the years we have eaten A LOT of tacos!

Truth be told, I still do not like cooking or meal planning much, but I am getting better at doing both.

To your health & sanity!


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